PEGBRJE: Satan Loves Cake and Starcats

We all gotta sometimes.

Satan Loves Cake is a platforming adventure within the depths of Hell by baku, a solo indie dev who makes dozens of different styles of adventure. This one in particular features a loveable leader of Hell in Satan, who has somehow run out of cakes while watching TV. Unfortunately for him, the cake shop cannot deliver, so he must travel across his own realm to reach the cake shop.

Although the ruler of this domain, Satan sure hasn’t kept the place tidy, nor has he ensured the layout is easy to follow. Thanks to Satan wishing to reside far away from everything, the trek is arduous and long, spanning much of the domain through twists, turns, and doubling back to do so again. Armed with his trident, he’ll jump across chasms to reach different platforms to continue his journey, while occasionally zapping pests such as bugs and frogs as he encounters them as they can somehow injure him. Many of the facilities also don’t work, such as the elevators which require jumpstarts, and as Charon’s signs lament there are dozens of instances of construction that Satan will have to find his way around. It feels somewhat Metroidvania-esque, with the interwoven world that requires players to double back to familiar territory quite frequently, allowing the world to be quite small while feeling vast. Players will also be utilizing the food that drops from bosses to acquire new powerups from the Outhouses, which in turn allow for players to reach new areas and continue on their journey, such as the charged lightning blast that doubles as both a destructive force and a double jump. It gives a lovely sense of connectivity to not only the world but the gameplay itself, and since players need to have been defeating enemies they also cannot simply ignore the world in order to progress.

Depending on your skills in platforming and if you had played it prior, Satan Loves Cake is a lovingly short platformer that takes a little over an hour to complete on the first attempt. It’s pixel artstyle is adorably clean and crisp, and the animations for Satan are too cute for him to be the Lord of Hell, especially including that amazing intro cinematic. If you’re wanting a cute platformer to run through and test your luck, this is a good one to hop in to, especially for its utilization of the double jump-as-attack. It’s a bit clunky at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be zapping your way across the Nine Realms.

Catastrophic Mayhem

Starcats is a competitive co-operative mayhem simulator created by Symptomatic Productions, an indie studio founded by Quentin Young in the United States. Players will be joining a world in which cats have gone to space, following four who have broken out of space prison and are attempting to escape the alien planet that they are now stuck on. They’ll need to work together in order to power the ship, but they don’t necessarily need to ‘work’ together.

Games of Starcats start with all players involved spawning randomly on the planet with a single goal; power the four generators and make it back to the ship before it leaves. This is done by following the energy pipes to obelisks located around the map, and interacting with them by pointing the dial in the correct locations to power them. Once all four are powered, the ship will begin a countdown until it is able to lift off, to which afterwards anyone within the ship can launch it and leave any stragglers behind. This of course leads to that ‘competitively co-operative’ mindset that is employed, for only players who escape are able to keep their collected coins and gain points at the end of each round. Every player that escapes gains three points automatically, but also gains an extra point for every generator that they power, and with the goal of reaching 15 points there is serious incentive to ensure that some of those cats simply don’t make it to the ship due to an ‘accident’. Perhaps the ship takes off before they arrive, or perhaps a rock hits them in to next week, or maybe their oxygen/energy levels give out and they meet an untimely end. There are endless possibilities to eliminate the competition, but remember that powering up the generators by oneself may be too much of a burden and cause the player themselves to be left behind; with no allies left, many perish.

Of course, Starcats doesn’t want those who meet an unfortunate end to feel left out. If players do die in a round, instead of sitting on the sidelines they become incorporeal cats, spectres that can still affect the outcome of the game. They can sap energy from other players and even scare them in to falling off cliffs or even to death if the conditions are correct. Since the game is round based, it helps to give players the ability to still perform actions even if they know that they can no longer gain points and win the round; a tactical ‘if I can’t win, nobody can’ style of gameplay. Now that isn’t to say that dying and not gaining points is a good idea to strive for, as those who are able to escape the planet can utilize all of those coins gained to purchase upgrades and equipment for the round. These can vary from being defensive and assisting such as shields for the self or for the team, or destructive weapons such as the energy hammer to launch friends and foes alike. How that money is spent is completely up to the player and their playstyle, so spend it wisely.

Starcats brings together the best aspects of co-operative titles with the inherent chaos that is competitive survival games. It leaves the door open for players to make their own fun within the games, either through ensuring everyone always survives and always ties or to have an utter bloodbath and have the ship never leave. Thanks to the randomly generated maps and loading positions, players will never feel like they have an optimal strategy upon entry, and must use whatever tools they can find in order to win, either inside the game or on the outside. If this sounds like your kind of local multiplayer fun, I strongly suggest picking this up and giving it a whirl.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a 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.

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