Ever have one of those mornings when you've grossly overslept, can't decide whether you should be eating breakfast or lunch and your phone's blinking with a voicemail from your work? Usually, you can simply clean yourself up, apologize profusely to your boss and show up to work a little embarrassed and disheveled. Not so for Anubis, the main protagonist of the retro metroidvania platformer Psychopomps, developed by Team Psychopimp, made up of Phill Spiess, Tan Teck Wang and Jordan Roherty. When Anubis oversleeps, his fellow soul ushers are imprisoned and evil spirits become powerful, having profited from their absences. There's no time for him to groggily shower and eat a bowl of cereal... he has to be out the door and ready to pound on some bad guys to rescue his fellow psychopompers and set things back on track.
Using [WAD], move Anubis around while aiming and shooting with the mouse, and using [S] to interact with your environment whenever a question mark appears overhead. Once you've rescued your fellow psychopomps, you can choose to play as them by pressing ,  or . As you get to play each character, you'll find that they have different attacks and abilities, which you'll have to use to your advantage to get to the end. Killing an enemy rewards you with coins, which increase your experience, and red soul orbs, which replenish your health. Fill your experience bar to upgrade your weapon, but while each character has a different experience bar, all of them share the same life bar, making finding the hidden heart upgrades essential!
Analysis: If you enjoy playing characters that are a little dark and, perhaps, a little evil, you may be attracted to this game from the get-go. Cue the 8-bit music and pixelated jackal-man, and it might be love at first sight. Team Psychopimp has really delivered a game that perfectly captures the spirit of classic metroidvania titles without making it feel as if it's just "more of the same", something you've seen a hundred times before. It helps that the concept and characters are so neat, further carried along by some solid writing, and makes for an experience you'd really like to see more of, and more fleshed out, in the future. The game is difficult enough to keep most players interested yet easy enough for the more casual player to finish.
There are a few issues, such as jumps where you have to go up through a gap one square wide that can take several tries to get exactly centered and make it through. Areas also tend to look similar enough that they can feel a bit repetitive, and don't provide enough deviation to really make you feel like you're exploring. Other complaints are quite minor, however, such as having to wait for some of the dead enemies to spit out their reward. Considering the game was made in only one month for Something Awful's GameDev VI Challenge, it's quite impressive indeed. If you can make a game that doesn't feel like it was crunched out under a time limit you're doing something right, and the effort they've put into the game is obvious. If you're a fan of retro aesthetic with old-school metroidvania style platforming gameplay, you'll definitely want to give this one a try. After all, if you're late to work because of it, well, at least you don't have dark spirits lying in wait to steal your job, right?