At Indiecade 2013, Sony showed off plenty upcoming games for the PlayStation Vita. As part of their effort to support and aggressively bring indie games to their handheld platform, they had plenty of their upcoming indie titles playable at their tent. PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Vita games made an appearance at the tent. Sony had ports of Fez and Terraria playable, and it was interesting to see how those titles transitioned to Sony’s handheld. Yet what stood out most among the kiosks were Metrico, Hohokum, TxK and Murasaki Baby.
Metrico is a platformer taking place in a stylish infographic laden world. Players control a suited man beset by various imposing business type graphs. Moving through the various levels seems simple enough, jump across a gap and adjust platforms to crate a path. However, things becoming more complicated as players need to fuse with X and Y axes to adjust height or to move block around to create new paths. The levels build in an easy enough way, but soon become more and more complex requiring players to manage multiple elements in order to figure out a puzzle. Not only that but Metrico utilizes the various features of the Vita in such a way that it also becomes a matter of finger dexterity to continue forward. Metrico presents a good amount of challenging gameplay to draw the player into its stylized world.
Hohokum is an enigma. It is not a game that tells the player anything. The game becomes about discovery and journeying. The player must move the colorful snake around the vast (and sometimes empty) expanses to trigger events. These events become puzzles to solve. Sometimes people need a ride and sometimes a machine needs to be de-gunked and restarted. By letting the game happen, the events unfold and eventually become solved. For fixing a world’s problems, Hohokum rewards the player with charming visuals and portals to other mysteries to solve.
TxK is a new game from Jeff Minter’s Llamasoft and it is also a mystery in different ways. With visuals and gameplay like the original Tempest and Minter’s Tempest 2000, TxK features a tube shooter approach as well. Players will move around various shapes to destroy enemies falling down while gathering power-ups. Power-ups will improve weapons and add abilities like being able to jump away from the shaped plane to fire at enemies creating a buffer. Players have three lives to use up and when they lose one life they can use a smart bomb to clear a path. The game is hypnotizing though. A mix of the vibrant visuals and the intoxicating soundtrack resulted in me digging through a dozen levels and wanting more. There is something extremely bewitching about TxK.
Murasaki Baby was one of the newer Vita games announced by Sony at Gamescom. It features an unsettling and unnerving visual style that only becomes creepier playing through the game. What stood out most about Murasaki Baby outside of its visuals was its commitment to using the Vita’s front and rear touch screen for controls. Touch based games are nothing new, everyone plays games on their phones or on a tablet, but the Vita’s touch screens have always been highly impressive and responsive. Murasaki Baby uses the dual touch screens to create an experience that is engrossing and unique to the Vita. Players control Baby with the front touch screen leading her through the world by her hand with their finger. At certain points they have to prompt her to jump across a gap by swiping at her back to encourage her forward.
Sony had some interesting titles available to play at Indiecade this year. Plenty of the games showed off some strong potential for the PlayStation Vita’s 2014 line-up. As Sony keeps actively pursuing original and compelling indie titles for the Vita, 2014 should be full of some delightful surprises for the handheld.