PEGBRJE: Pin Puck and Neon Blight: Final Demo

Weird Hockey and Gun Sales

Bless the gif.

Pin Puck is an arcade sports game created by PatDavisGames, the studio spearheaded by indie dev Patrick Davis of Australia. Players will be playing a lovely game of hockey against a friend (or themselves), only to realize that while the puck is the same, the ‘stick’ is no longer flat; instead, it’s a pin. How… does that work, exactly?

Understanding the pin in Pin Puck is the true gameplay of this title, as players will grapple with the realization that they cannot simply play the way they normally expect to. Their stick is more shaped like a spaceship, so carrying the puck is more about how to utilize this bizarre pin-shape. To that end, players will be attempting to fling the puck via the back ‘wing’ parts, thanks to circular motions and physics. The faster the player can rotate around the puck, the faster it can be released in a direction of their choosing — at least, that’s the goal. More often than not it might slip out and go slightly off course, or worse in the completely wrong direction. Of course this adds to the chaos of the match, that unpredictability in each game that gives all players a sense of dread that they may not know exactly where the puck will go. Couple that with maps that aren’t relatively ‘average’ for a hockey rink and there’s plenty of chaos to ensure as the games begin.

For those of us unable to find a controller-wielding friend (or enemy), Pin Puck does have a single player mode that focuses on player’s ability to control the puck. Players will bring the puck to the coloured dots, racing against the clock to ensure that they can finish the challenge before they go over time and receive no medal for their tardiness. It’s a good practice tool for those wanting to get better at the game, especially for those of us that get our butts handed to us by one that seems oddly good at circular puck control. If you’re a fan of titles that decide to throw chaos in to a formula and thrive within it, this is a fantastic multiplayer game to boot up. Oh, and it can be played in browser with controller support; love the accessibility.

Slow day, huh.

Neon Blight: The Final Demo is a combination shop management simulation and roguelite shooter created by Bleeding Tapes, a solo indie dev based out of Canada. Players follow the life of an ex-cop in a neon-flavoured cyberpunk world, who gives up her job to inherit a weapon shop in a new neighbourhood. Thing is, the guns are going to have to come from somewhere, and there’s this constant rumor about the ‘Ultimate Weapon’ floating around. Wonder how much it would go for.

Note: As of this overview, the current version is 0.9, dubbed ‘the final demo’. I couldn’t get the itch.io client to download it properly, but it ran smoothly after grabbing it from the website.

There’s a lot going on for a demo, so I’ll try my best to parse it all for you. Lara has moved in to Eden, under the megacity itself, and will be juggling between running the weapon shop she inherited (and gets to rename) and exploring out in the wild in order to discover ‘the Ultimate Weapon’. Both aspects of the game go hand in hand with each other, so let’s start with the exploration. By going back to her car, Lara can land outside the city near a spooky sage and begin her exploration, venturing from area to area while shooting enemies and collecting their dropped money. As a roguelite the enemies are randomized, and respawn upon returning to that area; the money isn’t that great, however, so farming these enemies isn’t necessarily a smart idea. Per standard, the player is given a pistol with unlimited bullets, the ability to dodge, and a limited slashing dash that deals good damage, but only refreshes a single use upon getting a kill so spamming is dangerous. As Lara explores, she’ll come across puzzles that can be solved to uncover secrets (which may not be implemented as of yet) and vendors willing to sell her better guns. With her starting money and the currency accumulated, she can grab these guns and try them out, as each one as its own ammo capacity, fire rate, coloured shots and wicked name. Finding a gun that works best for the player’s style does wonders in progression, but what to do with those other guns that don’t seem so helpful? Why, at the gun shop of course.

Lara can return to Eden either of her own volition (or through death) and set up her shop to be the haven for those who are looking for a good weapon. It’s empty to begin, and only weapons that she acquires out in the wild can be sold (can’t get rid of the starting gun), but the level of customization is incredible. When placing a gun on a weapon rack, the player is given the market price for the weapon and what price they are willing to set it at, knowing if they are going to make more money off of it. While the shop is open — which the player gets to set while they are in — random NPCs will approach the weapons on the racks that have been set, with the possibility that they will buy them if the gun matches their needs. Some might be frustrated if the prices are too high, but at the same time Lara might not last long if she’s always undercutting herself, especially when the guns outside aren’t cheap to grab. There’s also a daily ‘in demand’, which can be seen on the store overview screen; this gives players an indicator of what guns are hot right now and more likely to sell well. Balancing out rapid expansion of the store with ensuring that items actually sell is critical, especially since players cannot set their store to ‘open’ and go exploring. There aren’t any employees for Lara, so everything she does is on her.

While this is a demo, it paints a fantastic picture of the potential that Neon Blight is offering. The aesthetic is gorgeous, giving a sense of cyberpunk style while still keeping everything crisp and clean so that gunplay feels fun and avoids clutter. Delving deeper in to the world will reward you with better guns, but if you don’t sell them then it’s hard to make a good profit to offset the costs. There are some downsides that come with the territory of it being a demo, such as lacking clear prompts to help understand how to perform certain actions (also some spelling mistakes and odd interactions, but I have a different blog series for that sort of technical stuff). Overall, however, I’m more than excited to see where this title goes, and if you loved Enter the Gungeon from earlier and were wanting something that felt a bit more longform and customizable, this is setting up for fulfilling those needs perfectly.