First Looks// Play Expo 2014: Slain and The Sun and Moon

Posted 4 Dec 2014 14:43 by
Play Expo is mostly a vast, playable museum of just about any retro game you could think to name. Mostly. But at the 2014 show a few new and upcoming games snuck their way in and Sausage Factory host Chris O'Regan took a bit of time out of getting misty-eyed to give some of them a try...

The Sun and Moon by Daniel Linssen

Momentum is a theme that is pervading a lot of games of late. Chaos Ride is a good example of this where the only way to succeed is to understand the importance of momentum and how it can propel the player around the tube/track.

The Sun and Moon joins the momentum fraternity by allowing the player to reversing the gravity as they pass through the platforms they jump on. I suspect this sounds somewhat confusing and without actually playing it (which you can here) it's rather hard to explain.

The Sun and Moon is a platform game in which the player must jump on and through platforms in order to reach orbs. Once all of the orbs in a level are collected the player can exit the level via a stationary glowing exit. The platforms can be passed through by pressing a button that allows the player to burrow through the ground.

The velocity they enter the ground at determines how far the player buries themselves into the platform and also how they are ejected as the gravity is reversed. This propels the player around the level at increasing height and speed. Direction can be changed mid-air, fortunately, but the speed of the little ball that the player controls does make things somewhat difficult.

The Sun and Moon has a very minimalist look with a two-tone colour scheme that does well to focus the player's attention on the movement of their little ball. It does fly around the environment very quickly, so this stark and simple presentation is more of a gameplay aid than anything.

There is an excellent chip-tune sound track to The Sun and Moon which does a good job of relaxing the player as they attempt to complete the level. This is much needed as The Sun and Moon is a very taxing game that I found to be somewhat frustrating until I figured out how to complete a level. At that point I then spent my time trying to get the orbs within the par time of the level to improve my score.

The Sun and Moon is out on Windows PC now.

Slain by Wolfbrew Games

Slain is a title that harkens back to a time when split-second timing along with a careful methodical approach was required in order to get anywhere at all. Games like Shadow of the Beast and Gods both exhibited this kind of gameplay system that punished the player if they chose to rush headlong into areas without first taking in what they were about to confront. These games were not so much about dexterity as much as they were assessing the environment and reacting accordingly. Think Dark Souls, only on a 2D plane, and you're pretty much there.

Slain is presented in a series of highly detailed sprites all animated down to small pixels that, while looking like 16 bit games of old, are actually far more fluid than anything a computer/console of that era could ever hope to produce.

It is a platform as well as a combat game that requires the player to time their attacks carefully as, if they are interrupted mid-swing, they are stopped and must start the animation again.

The levels are littered with traps that will kill the player repeatedly. Thankfully Slain has a forgiving checkpoint system that allows players to restart relatively quickly.

While playing Slain I could not help be drawn back to Shadow of the Beast, as the difficulty of that game was quite notorious at the time. The key difference here is that Slain has the added nuance of animated combat sequences that the player must time in order to make a successful hit. When this is pulled off it's very satisfying to lay waste to an area by carefully making your way along, chopping and carving up monsters as you go.

I played a pre-alpha version of Slain at Play Expo so a lot of features still need to be added. Nevertheless, I was very excited by what I did play and look forward to seeing the final game when it arrives in March 2015 for Windows PC.

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