PEGBRJE: Dogs Throwing Swords II: Three Barks To The Wind and Four Sided Fantasy

Simple Shooting and Mind bending world puzzles.

Let’s go puppy patrol.

Dogs Throwing Swords II: Three Barks To The Wind is a sequel — I think — and ‘shoot ’em up’ made by Lily V, a solo indie dev out of the United States. Players are thrust into Dogwoods in which a horned devil named ORELIA is causing havoc for all. Only three heroes will stand against this, and it’s up to them (and the player) to defeat this evil with the power of barks. And swords, somehow?

Before we even get to the barking, players will decide their team of three out of the four possible dogs, with choices such as the Warrior Husky, the Wizard Pomeranian, the Rogue Corgi and the Barbarian Pug. Each brings their own amount of health to the party, as well as a unique attack pattern to them. Deciding who to bring can be considered crucial, but honestly they all do the barking shooting at a decent level and it’s more about the personal preference of the pattern of the attacks. For example, a team of three Corgis may not be within one’s best interests if they want attacks that move directly vertical, as they are all diagonally splitting daggers. Once the adorable team is assembled, players need to keep them alive while destroying enemies to reach the teleporter of the level to move onwards, utilizing those attack patterns to their full potential to win out. The attacks of all three dogs create their own attack pattern as they all come together to shoot at once, but this can be altered by the player if they so wish thanks to the ability to swap the party order and party formation since the dogs are now in different places. It seems a bit inconsequential at first, but factoring in that it gives the ability to dodge attacks by making the party a line, or panic swapping to have the pug tank a hit can help keep the party alive longer. It also will make the attacks range different as well, since if the Pomeranian is on the bottom those sweet magic attacks won’t hit anyone attacking the husky on top.

Dogs Throwing Swords II will have you fighting through 6 full levels to finally be victorious, but they aren’t lengthy and can be completed in a single sitting if everything goes smoothly. The art is cute as heck, and the general aesthetic is aiming to keep those comfy feelings going even up against the scariest of enemies and bosses.

Four Sided Fantasy is a visually centred sidescrolling puzzle game made by Ludo Land, an indie dev out of the United States, and was published by Serenity Forge. Players are in a curious location, running along attempting to discover what they are doing here, only to realize that they have the ability to lock on to the world and cause it to ‘wrap’ back around.

Players are technically two different individuals, making their way through four gorgeous locations of season as they move towards whatever goal they are searching for — somewhat typical of cryptic puzzle games, but the only indication of goal is to simply keep going to the right and finding out everything along the way. Suddenly, however, the movement is impeded and the ability to move forward is stopped; that is when the introduction of the gameplay loop begins, for players have the ability to ‘freeze’ the world and force it to screen wrap. Now this might sound a tad confusing, so bear with me for a bit. By holding down CTRL, players cause a static recording to begin, indicated by the fuzzy pixels that appear on the edges of the screen (seen above). This then halts the camera movement as if to take a screenshot of the world, yet allow the player to continue moving within that screenshot. If the player goes to the edge, they will be warped to their respective location on the opposite side they left, hence the term screen wrap. Releasing the button causes the recording to stop and the camera to lock back on to the player.

The entire game is completely focused on the ability to utilize this screen pausing technology, and to say that it isn’t brilliant would be an understatement. It completely revolutionizes how players view each section of the map, for players have full control of when and where they activate this ability in order to wrap themselves in to the solutions of the puzzles. This also leads to asking questions such as ‘if I can’t wrap because there is a wall on the other side, could I walk on the ceiling as a floor?’ or ‘how fast can I launch myself through this section?’. The largest parallel would definitely be in Portal, for the idea of utilizing a simple movement-based mechanic to alter how one views the entire game is crucial for success. Each season also introduces a new twist to the formula, such as the coloured zones that cause the imaginary camera to suddenly be inoperable until a battery key is acquired, furthering the need to think of the empty air as more than just space that exists.

Four Sided Fantasy is a brilliant title to really bend the brain on, and definitely can become even harder to the point of becoming utterly stumped if one isn’t on their toes. The story also helps to drive the need to succeed, as I mentioned that there were two individuals; in reality players only play as one, for every screenwrap alternates the two as if they are stuck on two sides of the same coin. Granted, the plot definitely continues to warp everything as it unfolds, which may or may not satisfy some by the end; up to your understanding of it really, I just know that some may find it a little lacking. Regardless, the mechanics themselves are absolutely amazing, and coupled with the artistic prowess the game truly shines. If you wanted a mind-bending visual puzzle to distort space, then this is definitely one to grab and wrap your way through.

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Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.