Scratching the Itch.io: Cyber Special02 Feb 2018 0
Our Itch.io buzzword for this week – “Cyber” - was planned and locked in… right up until checking out the final game. It was only the second time a game with the word “Cyber” in its name turned out to be vapourware, but it’s still annoying. We worked so hard on the theme!
It makes you wonder: why go through the effort of making a page for your little experiment if there’s nothing to show than a few screenshots, eh? If anyone was looking forward to some retro anime artwork, we’ve let you down.
That being said, we do still have 2 titles that fit the titular topic, with the final being one of the coolest (and smoothest) games we’ve ever featured. No cheating, though. We’ll save the best for last…
No, I didn’t just copy and paste the filename here. This is the genuine name of our first game of the week. CyberCop_Plus.exe (or CCP if you want to risk raising a few eyebrows), is a slight mix between action and strategy – or so it says. Modelled and marketed so heavily as an anti-virus program, I actually had doubts even firing this one up. If you’re in anyway paranoid about the internet, you’re going to be breaking out into a sweat before you’ve even started playing.
CyberCop_Plus.exe sticks to its guns. Dropped into a lacklustre 3D virtual environment, you’re essentially an anti-virus program installed to tackle a bunch of emerging threats. Viruses are swarming in from all directions looking to get a piece of that sweet, sweet, CPU. You generate Programs to collect Memory, and spend that trickling resource to produce Anti-Virus units. Anti-Virus units are controlled with a mouse click and simply need to collide with a Virus to, well… delete it. Either position them in the way of an approaching virus, or micro-manage them enough to actively hunt them down. After a few successful eradications, you’ll lose your Anti-Virus unit.
Just like your standard RTS, having a specific build order in mind helps massively. Memory-gathering Programs only cost 1 memory, whereas a single Anti-Virus unit costs 3. Learn to make do with 1 or 2 units at the start, and you’ll be able to gather excess Memory at an alarming rate if you invest heavily in Programs early on. Play it smart and populate that leaderboard. Every attempt ended with a better result. The funky glitch-style sounds and graphics are a nice touch here, but it feels a tad unresponsive when it really matters. It wouldn’t hurt to be able to alter the colours of player units, either. Too often did I find myself hammering a non-moveable Program wondering why it wasn’t blocking the half-dozen Viruses assaulting my CPU.
Tower Defence is like the black sheep of strategy games. They absolutely fit the idea of what a strategy game can be, but they’re now seen as a casual title. (Although it’s amusing this sub-genre also spawned games like League of Legends, DOTA and, arguably, eSports itself – ED) Something a novice can successfully jump into and feel like they’re some kind of strategy god in no time at all. Cybernetic seems to challenge that notion with units that are either too slow or completely inaccurate.
Populating this 3D space with laser or missile towers is simple enough, but surviving long enough to upgrade a handful or shell out for another long-range Missile machine is a questionable endeavour even on the easier difficulties. With settings sliders galore and an options menu that makes no sense, you can tailor each play through to your liking. Each level is even randomly generated, with a bunch more sliders thrown in to control how many corners there are from an enemy spawn point, the amount of tiles available for building, and even how fast the enemies show up from however many spawn points you’ll allow for.
One of the more visually pleasing Tower Defence games we’ve featured yet, Cybernetic feels like something that tries too hard to be smart rather than practical. Light on sounds or style, this one is absolutely more of a tech demo than an enjoyable game. Randomly generated map previews, clean presentation, and heaps of customizability is all well and good; but the missile towers seem to miss every other shot. Awards for clearing waves offer far too little cash to adequately prepare for what follows.
Potentially the best game we’ve featured in a round-up yet, substituting this in place of a final ‘Cyber’ game is something we’re boiling down to destiny. Techium Eclipse is a silky smooth Ludum Dare title made in Unity in less than 48 hours. A clear example of what’s possible with the right tools and experience. It’s a little like Quantz – one of the first games I ever picked up on Steam.
Techium Eclipse is a strategy title bred with a rubik's cube. While you’re not twisting blocks to line up colours, instead you’re constantly panning around and rotating your planet to line up empty space with the dozens of meteors on a collision course. Meteors smash up your structures if they touch base, while the points needed to erect more accumulate faster the more structures you have at the end of a wave. There’s no real pause between assaults, either, so you’re constantly flipping your planet around to make a mental reminder of where each meteor is set to land and how you’ll need to rotate between each rapid collision.
Challenging your ability to micro-manage, the option to manually scale difficulty with the building system is akin to sliding weights on and off during a workout. You gain more for toughing it out, but you’re free to set your own pace by dialling things back to a more comfortable level. You aren’t given the option of where to place a new building, though, so reassessing where a meteor can fall without causing any damage is always high on the agenda. Spatial audio is a bonus in the 360 degree mash-up, so surround sound or a decent pair of cans is recommended.
Stealing the terms of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday and smashing them together in a way that makes little sense, that’s a wrap on this week’s Scratching the Itch.io ‘Cyber Special’. As usual, download links to each of the featured games are available up above and will not cost you a penny to check out. Techium Eclipse is the only one to ask for a donation (that it actually deserves), but you can skip straight to the download without any worries.