The quality of games available on the IGC has steadily decreased since Playstation Plus became mandatory for online gaming – but who saw that coming, right? Only everybody.
The Vita and PS3 seem to be doing pretty well for themselves lately with some solid titles, but the PS4 – currently the biggest selling console in the world – has seen unremarkable indie after unremarkable indie for quite a few months now.
I’ve had my PS4 for a fair few months now – when I joined Trine 2 and PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate were the games on offer – and to be honest, there still aren’t many games I’d play beyond a casual distraction. TowerFall: Ascension has easily been the best title released on PS+ during my time with it but this September we’ve actually had a couple of good ones. Here’s the rundown if you haven’t played them already or you’re thinking about buying in.
And the award for strangest game to enter the IGC goes to Sportsfriends. It’s made up of a handful of local co-op games, and they’re some of the most confusing fun you can have with your friends without getting naked with an inflatable sheep in the room.
First up is BaraBariBall – a game that sees two players competing to throw a ball into the opposing goal. Your first few games will seem fairly straightforward – battle it out for the ball, hurl it into the water, score points. But then you realise that you can jump into the water for a few seconds to recover the ball, and each character has their own attributes and movesets – and it gets ridiculously frantic. It becomes an intense back and forth with agile, smaller characters desperately staying out of reach of heavier characters capable of knocking them on their asses with a single hit. Simply the act of defending your goal becomes a struggle – characters have a limited amount of jumps that recharge when they’re on solid ground and you need a few to get out of the water. Fall short and drown and not only does your opponent gain a point for scoring, you lose one for falling. It’s surprising just how involved you get – just one game isn’t enough.
Super Pole Riders is another strong offering – a vaulting game pulsing with homoeroticism as you wield a comically long pole attached to a lithe, leotard sporting athlete. The objective is simple – kick a ball on a string into the opposing goal. But the controls are so intentionally clumsy, the poles so unwieldy, that most of the time you just end up flailing around or locking into a sensual embrace with your opponent and flying offscreen, gyrating all the while, into a psychedelic paradise. I wish I was exaggerating (I don’t. I really don’t). There’s even a character called Bear. Admittedly, yes, he does have an actual bear head, but the parallels are still here.
The chaos is interspersed with the occasional glorious moment of grace – pulling off a vault, soaring over your opponent’s head and punting the ball directly into the goal. Sportsfriends in general is so chaotic, so random, that these shining moments of success feel like real achievements, when in reality it just boils down to sheer dumb luck – the controls finally coinciding with what you wanted them to do. But if the controls were more tight, less sporadic, Sportsfriends would lose so much of what makes it fun.
I didn’t get to play the other two games purely because I didn’t have enough friends – but BaraBariBall and Super Pole Riders alone make this worth a look if you like random, chaotic fun with friends.
Here’s a sleeping hit. Combining two retro mainstays – sidescrolling platforming and hyper Space Invaders style alien slaying – Velocity mixes plenty of fresh ideas into the pot with a scoring system that succeeds in getting you to replay previous levels to increase your time and collect more points.
It’s slick and stylish, presented in a simple, muted cut-out graphic package that comes alive with bursts of detailed alien opponents. The first few levels spoonfeed you new abilities at a decent rate, teaching you to combine them to overcome the steadily mounting challenges. Your ship has both a long range and a short range teleport, used to cleverly return to forks in the road so you can hit switches and collect points before returning to the main course of the level or to dodge attacks and get past walls.
You’ll be swapping between space exploration and sidescrolling regularly throughout most levels, essentially landing your ship in enemy bases to solve reflex puzzles and hit switches so your ship can progress. It’s organic and dynamic, keeping the game fresh. Your hero has the same teleporting abilities as your ship, allowing her to traverse unbridgeable gaps with throwable pods or phase through walls and over hazards. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and it keeps the pace going in every level, upping the challenge at every turn.
This has been a good month for the IGC, but it’s disheartening to see a complete lack of triple AAA games on the PS4 a year after its release. October seems set to improve with the PS+ edition of Driveclub premiering for free as IGC’s first triple AAA title, offering much of the game’s content for no cost at all alongside two other (currently unannounced titles). If the previous months are anything to go by, it’ll be some new indie releases. But we can hold the faith for some more impressive titles before Christmas.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.