PEGBRJE: Hair Dash and Mendel

He’s just leering at me. I can’t handle it. Kill them all!

Hair Dash is fast-paced action game made by Clean Cut Games, a studio out of France that some may remember for their earlier additions of pixel art assets. Players take the role of Charming, a man with seriously luscious locks of hair which has caused the envy of a massive octopus for some reason, which results in this King Octopus attempting to steal the secrets to Charming’s mane. Thankfully, Charming has a sword, and a really good knack for beating up pirates with said sword.

This is actually the alpha version of Hair Dash’s PC port, as this was originally a mobile game made by Clean Cut which fully launched earlier this year- er, mid 2020. Unfortunately, this means that this is a vertical slice of what is to come, polished so that investors and new consumers such as myself would get an understanding of the game in its simplest form. Thankfully, Hair Dash is an arcade game that requires little setup so this works out well. Players are given 1 of 2 levels to try, and then informed of the only 2 buttons they need: right and left. This is because movement is done via attacking only, so if players click left and there isn’t anyone there, Charming stays put. Defeating a pirate then causes Charming to take their place, shifting the camera to keep it centered on the ego-centric man himself and we move onward to defeat more enemies. Each enemy, in turn, as a health bar that signifies how many attacks they take to be defeated. Charming is not so lucky, for if he takes a single hit he, well, hits the deck. It’s so simple, and yet it works so well thanks to the enemies and their ability to manipulate how players view the combat system over time.

While it is still alpha, there are certain enemies that exploit Charming’s mobility such as the fencer, who utilizes the health bars as a dodging resource instead to dodge behind Charming for every bar they have until their last one. Some pirates force reactionary mobility by throwing weapons in the air, forcing players to watch their landing place and avoid getting hit by them. The only way to move, however, is enemies being available to attack, so players must keep some enemies around to move through or break down an enemy to run through a row of them instead. Sponge-like enemies (those that just have way too much HP) usually don’t attack, and are usually used instead as either buffers to slow down the player’s fast pace OR to be used as constant targets to bounce back and forth between right and left, like a perpetual target that one can rely on.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to mention within Hair Dash due to its length, but what is here is extremely promising. The art and sound design are polished to the nth degree to showcase their artistic skills while also allowing for the gameplay to shine without any worry of players getting hung up on the aesthetics. The gameplay is about as arcade as one could hope for, with a constant feeling that you could do better after losing, forcing a restart and playing it all over again. According to the dev team, the PC version will end up much differently than the mobile version, but if you like what you read and see in Hair Dash I strongly recommend looking into the mobile iteration for the gameplay alone. If you wish to be patient instead, Hair Dash is looking to be a fantastic and fun addition to the arcade beat-em-ups come its official release.

Mendel is a simulation title made by Owen Bell, a solo indie dev known for experimental works in NYC. Mendel specifically follows a probe on a new and exciting planet, one who must collect samples of the local fauna and breed them into new hybrids. The probe can then document these fauna and their hybrids, seeing how they are all related, and turn the entire planet into a strange yet beautiful garden.

For the record, I was a little excited upon seeing the title, as Gregor Mendel is one of the few scientists I know of thanks to my soft spot for historic figures that discover revolutionary ideas and techniques only to go unknown for decades. For some context, Mendel is best known as the father of modern understanding of genetics after doing some studies on peas and noting that even after creating a hybrid of two peas, the one would still be more prevalent than the other in its spawn. This then helped coin certain understandings of hereditary lineage, and the terms dominant and recessive.

So it’s a little plain to see that Mendel is a fitting name for a game such as this, one where players simply collect flowers and breed two of them together to see how their genetics form a hybrid between the two and document it. As players explore and document more local fauna, a percentile to how genetically similar these new plants are to older plants will appear to assist in creating even more crazy hybrids. The plants themselves take on a combination of traits from each of the flowers used to create them, with the dominant flower usually representing the core of the plant with some tweaks to its flowering or branching structure thanks to the hybrid nature. Once created, it can also be documented, and harvested to create even MORE hybrids.

I don’t have much to say about Mendel, as it isn’t really a title that needs much explanation; players are a tiny whirring probe that runs around and creates a garden of genetically modified plants and experiments with them to see what they can create. It’s almost cathartic in a way to create a new plant and watch it grow in front of your eyes, see how it turned out and then document it with a name to remind you of that combination. Or name it something funny like I did, like ‘Treeburt’ or ‘Tree-y’ or something. The idea is that the world is your oyster and your laboratory, giving way to the creation of whatever your heart desires as long as you follow genetics. Mendel certainly does, since it was given the Public Understanding Award from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, a non profit organization to fund science/eng, technology, economics and mathematics projects that contribute to the world in some way. It’s almost a love letter to genetics really, showcasing all of the fun and intrigue that genetical research can provide if you are interested.

If you are excited about the idea of being limited only by science in a game of growth, Mendel will definitely give you the creative freedom you desire.

Links

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.