PEGBRJE: Evader and Wild Woods
Evader is a twin-stick survival title created by zerofiftyone, the indie dev that brought us Concentric earlier on in the bundle. This time however is not about surviving in a circular ring, but playing in a bullet-hell-like environment in which there are no bullets, only movement and lasers.
Players control two nodes that need to survive for as long as possible, connected via electric laser that tethers them to a maximum distance. Each node is a colour that corresponds to a joystick for ease of understanding, while also allowing for the two to ‘switch’ colours if they get close enough and switch orientation — it’s mostly just for niche scenarios in which the one associated with ‘left’ becomes visibly ‘right’. Now the laser itself does more than just tether the two nodes, for it can also destroy enemy shapes that have spawned in to kill the player via a single touch. When these geometric villains come in to contact with the laser they explode, adding their point to the tally at the top while increasing the multiplier; the more enemies destroyed in rapid succession the higher the multiplier, meaning more points to acquire. These enemies won’t make it easy for the player, however, as even the basic shapes move in different patterns that can seriously mess with the mind (I’m looking at you, triangles, and your shifty ways). Some enemies, such as the large triangle, cannot be destroyed upon contact and will require the laser to be held on top of it over time to destroy it, while the red nodes cannot be destroyed by a laser at all. Instead, these ones have little icons surrounding it, indicating that the player must rotate around it, which in turn fills the icons and destroys the red node upon all of them filling. It not only adds some variation to the enemies but keeps players on their toes as they attempt to juggle ensuring their two nodes survive while taking on all of the others.
Evader is a simple title, yet it immerses itself in its variation to bring forth a flashy and fun twin stick. The neon aesthetic is one I always enjoy, and the music adds to the atmosphere perfectly as you die constantly to simple miscalculations. There appears to be a bit of a ‘safety’ period when it comes to dying as well, as there were a few times in which I definitely came in to contact with an enemy shape but bounced off of it — perhaps it is a forgiveness system not meant to be analyzed, or just a simple bug on my end. Regardless it saved me numerous times, and so I’ll bank on it being intentional. If you’re looking for a twin-stick shooter that doesn’t really shoot but still gives the feeling of high-paced action as if there were bullets, this is it.
Wild Woods is a co-operative adventure created by a team of indie game devs based out of Germany, including Nadja Clauberg, Moritz Heinemeyer, Johannes Kutsch, Eric Massenberg, Marcus Meiburg and Jonas Heinemeyer. Players will be joining their friends as warrior cats hoping to fend off dangers from their cart as they venture through a dangerous forest.
Regardless whether it is played solo or co-operatively, Wild Woods will have players guarding a cart as it lumbers forward, ensuring that no matter the conditions it is able to move. During the day players will be gathering resources such as wood for their fire, berries for the healing pot and gold for the coffers. Most of the items need to be chopped down, and that’s where the trusty sword comes in as players will hack away at logs and trees to get the materials necessary. These will become crucial as night falls, as vision becomes nonexistent; the only way to regain sight is to light the fire which will consume a log and fill the fire bar to the next marker. Night is also when the bandits attack, to which they will attempt to hack away at the cart and steal the resources that are cut loose by their attacks. Players need to bounce between enemies quickly, chopping away at them while ensuring that the fire doesn’t go out so they can still see their foes. Once dawn breaks, the bandits will flee, and the cycle begins once again of collecting materials to prepare for the next night. There are a few alterations to the formula, such as forks in the road that require players to determine which direction they wish to go — usually it is either towards a bandit camp, or towards a shop to purchase upgrades for the cart to make it better.
I will say that gameplay does feel a bit more fun and chaotic if players are able to grab three others, but that isn’t to say that solo play isn’t possible. When players jump in to play solo, they immediately get two cats to control; the caveat is that they are both controlled by the same stick. This causes them to always run in the same direction, meaning that if players want to keep them together they’ll have to do some fancy maneuvers in order to push them back together. The saving grace of this is the passing mechanic, which allows for players to throw the items that they are carrying to another player (or the cart location it belongs) if a dotted line appears when they are facing said direction. It saves so much time to pass items around without worrying about dropping them due to attacks, or in solo case helping to alleviate the constant need to focus on too many areas at once. Here’s the thing, though; I’m not actually certain that the ‘two cats, one stick’ was completely intentional. It’s not a control scheme utilized often due to how frustrating it can be, and since I’ve had enough problems with my dualshock controller it may have just been that.
Whether or not it was intentional, Wild Woods was able to entertain regardless of the number of players that were involved. It’s not a long experience, clocking in at just above 30 minutes, but thanks to its openness and co-operative gameplay it can be replayed dozens of times with friends to see how efficient or fast you can go. I must say I was a little disappointed when it ended as I wanted to see more levels and areas to explore, but as a small concept it works wonders. If you’re looking for a family friendly co-op adventure for all ages, this is definitely it.
EVADER is an arcade style action game about skilfully avoiding death using a unique dual-control movement system…