Link Dump Friday №300


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraWhat ho, noble reader! As we prepare to sally forth into this brave new year, I bringest thee contests, games, and sheer, pants-wetting terror! Huzzah and verily! (I'm trying to make Ren Fair speech a thing in 2013. Don't you run this for me. I've never gotten over not being able to make fetch happen.)

Contests

Knytt UndergroundCONTEST: Get to Know Knytt Nifflas' (Nicklas Nygren) massive indie adventure Knytt Underground has finally arrived, packing a tremendous amount to see and explore, and because we love you (you especially... shhh, don't tell the others) we're giving you a chance to win one of ten free copies for PC or Mac! To enter, all you have to do is download the demo and leave a comment here telling us what you liked about it! Or, alternately, leave a comment telling us about your favourite moment in a Nifflas game. CONTEST CLOSED! WINNERS: jenimad, moldar, bluemoose, Solatoral, luthy, mrmaxmrmax, zaneramos74, nobody, vctory12, Mantus. Thanks for playing, and make sure you check your e-mail and your Spam folder if you haven't already heard from us!

News and Previews

Slender: The ArrivalThe Horror Don't Start 'Til Slendy Walks In Did you forget about Slender Man? Haha, oh you and your lies. You can't forget about something that is always just lurking over your shoulder and in the darkest corner of your room at night! Slender: The Arrival is still headed for a release (hopefully very) early in 2013, and now the first trailer has been released to whet your appetite. The game definitely looks more than a little intense, blending the frightening, tense gameplay of the original with more hands-on action and a lot more exploration in some very big environments. Our favourite dapper monstrosity has gotten a lot of attention this last year. Are you excited for more (especially combined with the talents of the original "Marble Hornets" videos), or are you ready to tell Slender Man "It's not me, it's you"?

Kickstarter Projects

Radio the UniversePretty Pixels, Big Action Classic Zelda action meets dark sci-fi setting and story? Colour us intrigued. 6e6e6e's Kickstarter for Radio the Universe is a lovely thing to behold for sure. This action adventure takes a rich pixel style and promises to deliver a big open-world experience in a melancholy setting, with influences "from titles like Yume Nikki, Symphony of the Night, Hotline Miami, and Dark Souls". It's more than a little ambitious, and the somewhat cavalier approach to more direct information might not sit well with everyone, but the game has already surpassed its funding goal and looks to have some serious talent backing it up. If this sounds like your bag, head on over and check it out!

Memento: Aurora ChroniclesPretty Girls, Sharp Things, and KAWAII If you like visual novels, you'll want to wander over and make flirtatious eye-contact with Bright Onion Studios' Memento: Aurora Chronicles, a game that follows the friendship that grows between two popular video game heroine archetypes in a way that both satirizes and pays homage to both while our heroine journeys around the world. Described as "the love child of Douglas Adams and Tolkien", it seeks to tell a story full of comedy and action, but also a liberal dose of heart. And not just because of the bloodthirsty, questionable ethics of the other leading lady. If you love vivacious, energetic stories and tons of character choices in fantastical situations, you'll definitely want to check this one out.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!

21 Comments

alexander.hulen Author Profile Page December 28, 2012 12:32 AM

Knytt Underground looks pretty good from the demo. As always, the music is enjoyable and sets the mood very well. The atmosphere is great, it is very easy and desirable to get absorbed into the game. I also was very interested by the character switching, which was very fun.

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I love the detail put into every screen in the demo of Knytt Underground. It has the same open feel as other Knytt games, but with a lot more polish.

Throughout the first chapter, the dialogue was wonderful; it did a great job getting me to sympathize with the main character.

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I'll post about my other experiences on Nifflas games.

I think my favourite "moment" was just during Knytt Stories on the level "The Machine" (I think thats the name of the default level..). The moment when you finally switch it off, and you watch the dead, destroyed and sapped world instantly start to come to life and rejuvenate. You've been running around avoiding monsters,obstacles, jumping a lot and exploring the mainly barren and deathly lands. But flicking the land-killing machine off was just inspiring. To be able to feel like you've truly accomplished something, like you've helped someone.

I think I enjoyed that moment the most just because as beautiful as all the maps are, once the land is healthy again it's like a whole new experience to explore. It makes you really stand in awe and go "this is an amazing treasure of a game". It's a beautiful metamorphosis to an already jaw dropping game. Taking simple platforming aspects and implementing them into this wonderful game.

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lunaticwraith Author Profile Page December 28, 2012 9:10 AM

I remember Knytt Stories. My favourite moment happens early on in The Machine. When I finally obtained the ability to climb walls, I remember feeling "Oh yes. I can do just about anything now."

That moment happens again and again with every new power I obtain. Combine that with the sharp and tight controls, and it was just pure sublimity. Really, the gorgeous worlds and the beautiful soundtrack was just the icing on the sweet sweet cake.

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The best part so far about the new Knytt Underground demo is the improved visuals. Any Knytt game should be an immersive experience, with beautiful things to see and hear. With that said, I am interested in seeing the third chapter, which appears to unlock the exploration part. The first chapter feels too confined to be a true successor.

My favorite part of Knytt was finding the little lonely creatures and people of the world. You would wander for what felt like miles, listening to all these beautiful ambient sounds with bits of music sprinkled in, and then you would find a little sprite looking off into the ocean, or a creature wandering a cave deep underground. They weren't hostile, they were just there. Perfect.

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The part that i enjoyed the most about the demo is the exploration. The world you go through in Chapter 1, while not that big, looks really beautiful. Nifflas is known for making games that have a lot of atmosphere, but none of them even begin to compare to this game. It feels like a game you can relax and enjoy the music and the visuals with.
I also like the sense of humor the game has, mostly from the creator himself.

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For me, the best part of playing this demo of Knytt Underground was trying to navigate the menu. I loved that I was able to try to head to potentially secret areas in the menu itself.

Kudos to the developer for this! :)

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My favorite part of Knytt Underground, as with the previous Knytt games, is the exploration, along with the general atmosphere. The music is awesome as always, and the photographic backgrounds are very cool. The world, at least in the demo, is slightly more linear than that of the first installment in the series. However, this time there is a map that fills out as you progress, which I always love in games. It gives a sense of completion when you've explored every area and the map is all filled in. I've played Knytt and Knytt Stories multiple times as well as Within a Deep Forest, and I think the more story and dialogue centered gameplay with elements from nearly all of Nifflas' previous games will make Knytt Underground a great addition to his catalog.

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My favorite part of any Nifflas game is how well he creates the environment to direct you where you need to go in the beginning, and then slowly opens up to let you explore once you have some upgrades. It's immensely satisfying to feel like you've finally earned the ability to go just about anywhere and explore just about anything. Knytt Stories is one of my favorite games ever. I also love that he included the level editor, because others have made lots of fantastic fan-made levels! Never gets old.

(I was just about to buy Knytt Underground, but I think I'll wait to see if I win the contest first, just in case!)

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I see that Knytt Underground has a 'portable' install option (thanks Nifflas!!). I wish more devs included this as an explicit install option.

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I love how pretty Knytt is....and how you wander about looking and figuring things out by yourself

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mrmaxmrmax Author Profile Page December 28, 2012 8:12 PM

I'd heard of Knytt a long time before I had a chance to experience it; I've been a Mac only user for over a decade now. When I saw that Knytt Underground had a Mac demo, I downloaded it the same day and tore through it. Thank you so much for releasing this demo!

My favorite part of the demo was hard to pinpoint because there were so many amazing things that I bet are typical for Nifflas. The greatest feature I could come up with was the pace that the game moved at; it was easy to speed through the screens. When you speed through the screens, the beautiful backgrounds blend together into an blur of colors.

However, speeding through the backgrounds also made stopping more rewarding. Whenever I came out of my map screen, I never got started again right away. When I played a game like a PSX-era Final Fantasy, there are dozens of screens that are only there to be walked through. There are many beautiful things to see, but being forced to move slowly to justify the creation of those locations always tears me up. With Knytt Underground, when I stared at the backgrounds, I always felt happier and more fulfilled since it was my choice to look at them.

Maxwell.

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I'm having some trouble getting the demo to work, but I was replaying some Knytt Stories the other day. Like a previous poster, I liked the part at the end of The Machine when you turn the machine off and the entire world transforms. All the monsters are gone, the music changes, and everything is so pretty and peaceful.

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In the Knytt demo, the best thing is undoubtedly the wall climbing. So agile, so quick, it very much fits the exploration themes!

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https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkYvHMNZbypP5wePOPo9tb2svy5cH58jLU Author Profile Page December 29, 2012 7:10 AM

I loved the demo because as in the previous games, the platforming part is flawless.

You are able to run through multiple screens at your own pace, you can explore and find secret areas and beautiful places. Plus, you can almost always come back later when you have discovered a new powerup to uncover new things.

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zaneramos74 Author Profile Page December 29, 2012 7:20 PM

One of the things I really love about Knytt Underground is the interaction between the denizens of the world. In the previous Knytt games, the protagonist was silent and any residents of the world were basically background design. I loved that in those games because it lent a feeling of loneliness to the exploration, being unable to communicate in this vast open world despite it being peopled. Knytt Underground still maintains the sense of a small person in a huge world, but with the fairies and other people scattered throughout, it's not as lonely. It's also interesting that though the protagonist is mute, she's not really silent or a blank player slate. In the demo you can see how being mute changes people's reactions to you (one of the first people you 'help' is far from grateful for you attempting to do so), and that Mi has a bit of sass to her. The dialogue is funny and it's nice to see that though the game is polished, it doesn't take itself too seriously (i.e. chapter 2 of the demo).


The gameplay is improved from the last ones. When you hop onto walls, you don't slowly slide down, which takes some of the pressure off of the platforming. There are specific power-ups to help you navigate certain areas, and the introduction of the ball form is actually really fun and easy to get used to (any gameplay mechanic that lets you wildly slingshot yourself around instantly wins me over). It makes you feel like you have more control over the character, versus the screaming careening that were most of my attempts to play Within a Deep Forest, and the precision tapping of NightSky.


I really love the overall design elements in Nifflas' games, and with each new game he introduces incredibly useful and easy to use tools. In Saira there was the camera that let you take pictures of clues (I wish all adventure games had that feature), and in Underground the map is so handy, especially in an exploration game, and the inventory screen is easy to navigate. The ability to free-roam on the main menu screen is cool and a nice touch versus the standard menu-option surfing of most games.


I'm glad that the soft scuttling of Knytt feet sound is still in the game, being one of my favorite things from the previous games. Though there's more music and ambience in Underground, the light echoing tap of feet in a quiet world really helped set the mood in previous Knytt games.

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vicky.ptarmigan Author Profile Page December 30, 2012 1:10 PM

My favorite part of Knytt Underground has to be the switching between the two characters. That really opens up some interesting platforming. As always, the music and graphics are really soothing and relaxing too.

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Just played the demo. I loved the first chapter, but was blown away when the game introduced the character switching mechanic. At first I thought it would be really circumstantial and clunky, but quickly realized how easy it was to use and how liberating it felt to bounce around. I found myself switching to ball-mode just because running felt so slow.

I will definitely be recommending this game to others, and would buy it right away if I didn't have a chance of getting it for free.

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There are so many nice little touches on display here, so I'm going to point out three that might otherwise go unremarked:

Firstly, even before launching the game, (and this is sort of trivial, but after seeing it here I can't help but wonder why more games don't offer this option) that the installer includes a check box for setting it up as a portable installation (in which its save-file gets written to the game's own directory instead of to one of the many, many possible places within Windows' Documents & Settings folders that most current games choose between). It's such a small thing, but so considerate!

Secondly, the area you're in immediately after launching the game that serves as a basic movement tutorial is so nice and mysterious. If you just follow the arrows you'll of course eventually find yourself where you need to go (dramatically, the Title Screen), but it's also designed to let you hop immediately over to the right, assuming you've already internalized the little bit of movement and wall-climbing the other, bypassed screens were set up to teach you. It's neat because if you can use the tutorial help you're going to naturally find yourself falling there and making the longer trek around. And if you're a quick learner or a returning player you can choose to either jump (and climb) right to the title screen or explore your way around in both directions to piece together the small bit of geography.

Lastly, there's something this game's map feature does that I don't think I've seen before. Like many auto-generating maps, this one draws rooms/screens as a series of interconnected squares, with a solid line indicating dead-ends and an open edge indicating that you haven't yet explored from that room in that direction. What's neat here -- and possibly unique? -- is that the open edges aren't shown to indicate all exits, but rather only those which are currently accessible. As an example, pretty early on you'll come across a few rooms that clearly have passages going off in multiple directions, but the layout is designed so that one of those passages is only accessible from the other side (because of, say, an overhang that'll keep you from climbing up from your current location). Cleverly, the map system pretends that those inaccessible passages out of that room simply don't yet exist, and it seems that later -- when you do come at it from the other side -- the map square then gets opened up to make the link. Again, it's such a nice, small, but considerate touch, keeping the player from needlessly backtracking only to find that the unexplored opening on the map cannot in fact yet be reached.

Obviously there's so much nice stuff going on with atmosphere and game-feel and a sense of exploration, but these three things jumped out early on as also clearly worthy of praise.

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I played the Knytt Underground demo- I've heard a lot about Nifflas games, but I haven't actually played any of them that I can recall. I usually have a lot of difficulty playing platforming games with my keyboard (I'm much better with a controller hooked up to my computer)- but this demo pleasantly surprised me. The controls were very responsive, and it was actually really fun and easy to run around and jump and whatnot. Any sort of death/failing was usually really painless with a quick and easy respawn system, and whenever frustration vaguely threatened, it was just fun to go and run around in the world of Knytt Underground and enjoy the scenery.
So, as a rare experience, my favorite parts were the responsive jumping/wall-climbing actions- sort of the bread and butter of what I got through in the demo.

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I really enjoyed the Knytt Underground demo! This game feels very nostalgic to me, since I played Knytt Stories and Within a Deep Forest a few years back! The little creatures making the world feel alive, the gorgeous backgrounds, the relaxing atmosphere... Few games are engaging like Knytt Underground!

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