Obludia Review

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Obludia

FobTi Interactive

PC

 “Oblud-ee, Oblud-ah, life goes on, bra!”

Obludia is a 2D Arena Shooter from FobTi Interactive. What does that mean? Well, it means that screenshots are going to look very much like The Binding of Isaac and this is somewhat misleading, since the game plays bugger all like Mr. McMillen’s classic* title. Instead it’s got much more in common with games such as Robotron or Smash TV, where a significant number of enemies pour into the arenas and you can change up weapons on the fly to try and cope with the different threats.

* Is it too early to call it a classic? It feels like a classic in its genre, yet it’s only been around for 3 years.

Your Van Helsing looking character has to kill things because of… uhh, there is no plot… because he’s in a dungeon and that’s what you do in those places. Your enemies range from cute ickle spiders to what looks like Orko from He-Man; all foes, whatever their appearance, need to be dispatched before you can move on to the next level. So, you bustle around the arenas, avoiding traps and whacking skeletons with your sword or blasting them with a shotgun. Since this is all that the game has to offer, the core action needs to be spot on – and it isn’t quite.

The worst offender is that the collision detection seems slightly off, especially with regards to jumping enemies. The hit-box on creatures seems to extend out past their sprite, so what should be a narrow avoidance ends up being a hit.

Next up is the floor patterns, these do a great job of masking bullets and floor traps which can lead to unfair injury. I think it is the fourth level where this is at its’ worst, with the dark floor colouring masking a lot of hazards.

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My first attempt – and I notice, most YouTube videos – ended at the hands/feet of the end of level one boss. This giant spider bounces around the screen shooting in multi directions and is accompanied by a swarm of its regular sized brethren. Nothing you face prior to this point is even 10% of the challenge of this brown git. And yet, once you work out that it’s easily taken down by spamming dynamite (a resource that is ridiculously cheap in the in-game shops) you now have the secret key to beating all of the games’ bosses. Hurl dynamite, blast what remains with shotgun and that’ll do it. Not quite the challenge I was expecting after that first encounter.

Aside from boss-brutalising dynamite, the shop also sells magic and health buffs, ammo and a pet dog that collects coins for you and sometimes goes berserk and eats enemies. The doggy is cool, but like everything else in the game, you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve seen the character model before somewhere. It’s all very familiar – but that has a positive side too.

You see, by being so familiar and so straightforward, Obludia manages to be a great ‘brain-off, pick up and play’ title. It doesn’t require any complex thought – no need to carefully budget or conserve ammo, no need to worry about where you spend your skill points since it makes little difference – all you have to do is have a quick blast.

I feel short sentences do this game justice.

The game is not very difficult. I am perfectly OK with this.

Even the ‘carnival-esque’ music lends itself to a sense of a disposable, throwaway experience. You play for a few minutes, try to hook a duck, and win or lose you’ve enjoyed yourself. It was a bit of a giggle – a silly bit of fun – and sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for when you sit down at your PC. Not everything needs to start with 25 minutes of cut scenes and have thousands of pages of lore to wade through. Have gun? Kill stuff. Simple enough for anyone to understand.

 

“Oblud-ia, you’re breaking my heart

You’re shaking my confidence dail-y…”

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Mid-review, a patch hit which prompted the following:

Developers, is there any chance you could wait until you’re satisfied with your game before you release it? This isn’t a problem exclusive to Obludia by any means. I tried to open my save file for the game – FATAL ERROR – so I look it up on Steam. Well, it turns out that the developer has been mucking around with the achievements, and as a result, people’s save files have become borked. So I start a new game and – OH LOOK – the difficulty of the first level has been changed with new hazards added. Without discussing whether or not these changes improve the game, the fact is that the game is now different to the one that I was playing a couple of days ago. It’s different to the game I expected to play.

Perhaps it’s me. I come from a generation of gamers who bought physical media of games. When the game was released, that was pretty much it (with very rare exceptions) and you kept the product you paid for. Somehow, the idea of a developer being able to fuck around with a game you bought without warning and significantly impacting on the gameplay feels off to me. Presumably you playtested it and were happy with the build that you released and expected people to pay for. That was your final version. For all the 20 people kicking up an angry stink on web forums bitching about some aspect of your game, there are probably 10 times as many who were perfectly satisfied with what you did and so don’t feel the need to cry about it online.

I understand how patches work. I understand the artist’s need to keep adding brushstrokes. I also understand that many companies use patches as an excuse to shunt out half-finished crap onto gamers and expect them to beta test their games for them (I’m looking at you, Electronic Arts). How about you take some pride in what you create and hold on to it until you’re happy the game is the best you can do

by Karlos Morale

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Obludia is out now for PC for £5.99 on Steam

Loadout Review

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Loadout Review | PC | Edge of Reality Ltd.

It had been a long time of not watching blockbuster action movies before I watched Sylvester Stallone in his 2008 Rambo film. Yawning, I ended up idly picking the film from Netflix in the certainty that I’d be turning it off again in 10 minutes time. The reason I didn’t, and actually went on to enjoy the film, was that it was gloriously and unrepentantly violent. Bullets took people off their feet, shredding them as they flew. Explosives caused people to become startling fountains of bloody viscera. It was unexpected and glorious.

It had been a long time of not playing arena shooters before I played Edge of Reality Ltd’s new title, Loadout. Yawning, I ended up idly picking the game from Steam in the certainty that I’d be turning it off again in 10 minutes time. The reason I didn’t, and actually went on to enjoy the game, was that it was so gloriously and unrepentantly violent. Bullets took people off their feet, shredding them as they flew. Explosives caused people to become startling fountains of bloody viscera. It was unexpected and glorious.

There are too few opportunities in gaming life to really embrace the ridiculous, despite the affordances of a media that can literally set anything, anywhere at any time. Too often, in my view, games try to be extensions of real life – when really, abandoning anything that ties the game to mundane existence would be preferable.

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Edge of Reality Ltd’s game has a lot of work to do in order to stand out in its field; a free-to-play 3rd person arena shooter, very much in the style of Team Fortress 2, Loadout could easily get lost in a sea of similar games.

Get shot too much in Loadout and you could end up headless – just a brain with two eyes glued to the front – but still alive. Or, you can find yourself running around with a chest cavity big enough to drive a bus through but still alive enough to grenade the unwary.

Loadout is at its most successful when it sticks one dying, bloody finger up at the conventions of gaming. The game hooked it from the very first spawn point. I noticed that I had been dropped in to a space occupied by green (friendly) and red (enemy) named characters. The seconds ticked down to game start and I went through the following thought processes:

1. Ugh. We’re all spawning together? That’s stupid.

2. Huh. We’re all spawning together.

3. Yeah! We’re all spawning together!

4. Double kill! I survived! I’ve only got one arm!

Dropping me into the game like that was brilliant and it set up the tone for what was to come, frantic, barely co-ordinated violence and its gooey repercussions.

Before you get to shooting action however, you have to choose your loadout – see, they didn’t just pick the name at random – as the game has a strong focus on you building a weapon (which in a stroke of genius, you get to name) to match your preferred play style, or role in your team. Any weapon can be modified to deliver arcing lightning death, burning fire or even healing if you’d enjoy being a medic. Additional upgrades are unlocked with ‘blutes’ which is a currency earned solely in-game and cannot be bought with microtransactions.

Uh oh.

Yeah, there’s that word again. Microtransactions. After the travesty that was Dungeon Keeper, this should be enough to send shivers down any gamers’ spine. Thankfully, Loadout manages to do it right and prove that it’s not that hard to monetise a game without pissing everyone off. Are you listening, Electronic Arts?

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First up, Spacebux – the currency you buy – cannot be used to buy anything that will give you a material advantage in-game. The upgrades are cosmetic only.  Edge of Reality made a smart choice by opening up the weapon systems, but really restricting the cosmetic options available to you in customising your character. At low levels, each team is filled with 4 or 5 versions of the same fat-Rambo with the occasional chunky lady thrown in. As you play the game, you’ll realise it’s quite possible to make pretty badass looking avatars, but unless you cough up some money to support the game, you’re going to be left with the couple of goofy looking options you had at the start. It actually reminded me of Brink’s character customisation which was a strong element of that title.

Secondly, Loadout is a great deal of fun to play. You make progression in terms of unlocking weapon upgrades etc. because it’s a title that lends itself to sitting down to play for an hour or two every day. You get daily play bonuses of blutes so you can always be working towards creating a new weapon to try. Games don’t tend to drag on and (so far) the online community is decent without people getting butthurt over defeats. So you tend to play and play some more – leading you to want to give something back to the developer who made this decent shooter.

It feels different enough to Team Fortress 2 to stand a chance of making a splash for itself in the arena shooter world. I hope that it makes it and I’ll be really interested to see how the game progresses from this point. Why not get in on the ground floor and give it a whirl? After all, at this price point, what have you got to lose?

Don’t push me.

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Karlos Morale

Loadout is available now for PC on Steam

http://www.loadout.com/game-info/