A brand new platforming adventure game has just been released from Nitrome: Dirk Valentine and the Fortress of Steam! Dirk Valentine uses similar mechanics as Nitrome's own Frost Bite. Move Dirk with the [arrow] keys and aim with the mouse. Press the left mouse button to fire the ricocheting chain gun. The slightly more serious tone and steampunk setting is a departure from Nitrome's usual fare, but the high quality of artwork, music and overall design remains the same.
It's 1897, and for the last five years Baron Battenberg's Steam powered war machines have ravaged Europe. Led by Great Britain, a handful of countries set out to stop the Baron. A tiny airship arrives at its destination, carrying Britain's greatest spy, explorer and fighter, Dirk Valentine. It's your job to fight off the Baron's army of soldiers and steampunk machines as you create your own platforms using Dirk's handy chain gun.
The chain gun is both your main weapon and a useful tool in this game. Not only does it dispatch enemies and collect medals, it also creates platforms that can snake across ledges. When standing on a brown-topped platform, fire the chain gun at another unarmored piece of ground. The chain will form a bridge between you and the other platform. If it bounces and hits other unarmored platforms, your bridge will continue and build up to three nodes. Later in the game it can perform a few more tricks, such as stalling platforms or zap through teleporters to take out enemies from afar.
Analysis: By far, my favorite setting for a video game is deep inside a steampunk world. The gears, the machinery, the airships, the clanking metallic gadgets. Dirk Valentine and the Fortress of Steam certainly doesn't disappoint on this front, as Nitrome manages to create a convincingly interesting story and environment without getting too serious. It's nice to see the studio's fine pixel artwork shift to a slightly new style.
Aiming definitely takes some getting used to in this game. Dirk's chain gun fires from just below the actual mechanism (in case it connects to the ground to create a platform). The result is you always fire just to the side of where you were aiming. With practice, this becomes a non-issue.
Some chain platforms you create can be murder to use, especially ones that are more vertical than horizontal. They're handled quite well, to be fair, but it's difficult to tell just how far you can move on some before falling to the ground. There's also an odd glitch that causes your character to freeze if you press the mouse button too rapidly.
As a little bonus bit of trivia for everyone, the famous Wilhelm scream makes an appearance when you take out some of the soldiers. It seems just a bit out of place, but it'll make a lot of people grin, so it's worth it. Nice touch, Nitrome!
Familiar, but fresh, and with a setting rarely seen in casual games. An excellent release from Nitrome!
Cheers to Ashiel for sending this one in!