PEGBRJE: Outpost Horizon Station and Cromwell

Bless you for this gif.

Outpost Horizon Station is a survival shooter created by ‘oldmanofthefire’, an indie dev and artist who has made short titles. This particular title was made in Construct 3 (which I believe may be a first) and features a lone spacefarer who is getting some payback on those that destroyed a simple farming station until they become overwhelmed.

True to its nature, Outpost Horizon Station is a game of surviving within the chaos as the player is constantly attacked at all sides by enemies. Armed with only a singular recharging weapon and a specific skillset (both selected prior to start) players will utilize their gun to shoot down enemies to not only survive but to also gain points to add to their therapeutic score. Killing multiple enemies within rapid succession will build up a multiplier to further the scoring mayhem, but the more clustered the enemies the more likely they can be to overwhelm our little spacefarer. Thankfully, every so often power-ups will spawn such as the forcefield which gives the player another hit to withstand instead of being a ‘one-and-done’. Death is not the end, however, for the player can immediately respawn after ‘losing connection’ and try again from scratch, hoping that this time they can succeed in getting even farther than they had the previous time.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m leaving out the most interesting aspect of Outpost Horizon Station to highlight it; the fact that the player is rotating within the station’s debris. As the station appears to still have gravity, players will actually be constantly rotating themselves within the ship instead of existing in a flat 2D box, meaning that orientation is extremely critical to ensure that one doesn’t accidentally lose their footing and fall off the station and in to the empty void of space. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially at times when the camera whips around after a massive jump that can seriously disorient players that may not have been expecting it or were focused on killing off an enemy. It is this contained space however that allows for the feeling of enclosure that it gives, that players cannot truly escape or find any space to hide away from their assailants as they jump around essentially a giant ball.

Outpost Horizon Station is a fantastic way to start of page 25 thanks to its high octane chaos, the feeling of constantly pushing yourself to go just a little bit farther and reach the next level checkpoint of surviving for a bit longer or getting a certain score. There are no actual ‘levels’ in the traditional sense outside of this one, only goals to reach in order to increase one’s level and acquire new weapons and skillsets. I’d like to also take this time to quickly mention that the soundtrack of this game is an utter masterclass, blending fusion guitars and 80’s synths together for a seriously rocking song that is somehow still playing on loop for the past 30 minutes and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. Aric Nesheim did fantastic work on this game, and it perfectly compliments the pixelated neon aesthetic that is gone for in this title. If you love chaotic shooters that have no real ‘end goal’ outside of cathartic shooting, then this is it.

Well, that was fast.

Cromwell is a decision making narrative game created by The Digital Technologist, a solo indie developer based out of the UK who created many titles for university studies. This one in particular takes the controversial leader of England in Thomas Cromwell and lets the player decide how long his reign truly was until he was killed.

For those that have played the title ‘Reign’, Cromwell will look very familiar to you as it takes heavy inspiration from the style and design. Players will be given a problem relating to Cromwell’s rule of the Commonwealth, and it is up to players to decide which of the two solutions they wish to pursue. To help give them some bearing, there are three symbols at the top to indicate the popularity Cromwell has amongst the three major factions of England, between the church, the people, and the military. Each decision made will at minimum influence one of these three either positively or negatively, with many decisions altering the state of all three as the decree usually isn’t considered favourably amongst all. As players wrack up decisions, the balancing act between the three will be expanded to four once the parliament is called to session, causing players to juggle a new variable as well. Eventually, however, one of the factions will most likely become upset enough to give the player an ultimatum, resulting in the end of Cromwell’s reign.

The more interesting aspect, at least for me anyway, is the little indicator on the bottom left, resembling a straight arrow and a curved one. This is actually an indicator of whether or not players are following history ‘accurately’ at major moments of the game. Deviations aren’t necessarily a bad thing (technically) but it’s a nice little mechanic to help involve those that may want to know more about the life and times of Cromwell — obviously this will be mostly aimed at those from outside of England, as I feel that such a polarizing figure isn’t one easily forgotten by its people.

Regardless of your feelings for the man, Cromwell is a fairly small yet tight game about making decisions that can shape history. It isn’t setting out to be a pure edutainment spectacle, nor is it attempting to reinvent the wheel: it’s just giving you the ability to choose some outcomes. Sometimes that’s all you need. Have a try is you really want to see Cromwell die in various ways.

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