PEGBRJE: Scrapper and Luminous Labyrinth
Ducking and dodging everything.
Scrapper is a curious mission-centric roguelite flying adventure made by Ghostbolt, an indie studio out of Australia. Within this title, players are simply attempting to finish the missions that they are given while flying throughout space. There is one caveat, however; they cannot really stop.
Players will start Scrapper with a simple rust bucket of a ship, even if it doesn’t necessarily have all of the rust aesthetic. The goal is to finish missions that are generated that give points and ‘scrap’, which is then utilized to buy upgrades for the ship. Thing is, these upgrades also require levels to unlock them, so missions need to be done somewhat successfully to gain levels. These unlocks allow for the customization of the ship’s exterior as well as changing the three stats from speed, turning and ‘barrelrolling’ which sounds hilariously amazing as a stat. So if everything is in these missions, what exactly are they?
Missions in Scrapper consist of the player being given a simple objective, usually between collecting a certain amount of a specific object, survive a set amount of time, or reach an objective. After deciding on a mission, players are thrown in to a debris-covered expanse thanks either due to asteroids or destroyed ship parts, and are told to begin. Thing is, there’s no brakes that I’m aware of; players can only turn the ship on the XY plane (assuming Z = in/out of screen) meaning that running in to things is super easy. This gameplay seems like it might get a tad dull, yet the high speed and constant focus do wonders for its engagement. Players are constantly making sure that they don’t get hit by anything and everything, and since it’s infinitely scaling there is no ‘edge’ that can be hit. Other items exist that can be picked up, most importantly the fuel that is needed to keep the ship moving. There’s also the Multiplier which doubles scores, Scrap kits that give extra scrap, the Repair to fix that one wing that was torn off, a Shield for preventing that wing from being torn off and the Boost that doubles the speed for a short duration and is probably why the wing was torn off. These boons are littered throughout the maps, spawning in precarious positions that may get players killed if not paying attention, but can give the rewards necessary in order to get past that final hurdle.
Scrapper is a peculiar title, adding in the roguelite that each mission technically is within an enclosed space and only transfers over a single recourse while still feeling like a rapid space dodging simulation. It’s extremely engaging, if a little unpolished, with its different settings and circumstances — the ships shooting and things exploding was a nice touch, and I would have loved to see more. If you enjoy titles that experiment with genres and wish to have a bit of fun in space, Scrapper might be what you’re looking for to spend an hour or two.
Luminous Labyrinth is a maze puzzle light show made by Bobby Wolfe, a solo dev who has gone by the name Pixel Pirate Games and resides within the United States. Currently in active development (according to the itch.io), players are a cube attempting to best every level by reaching a star, all while grooving to the rave lights and sweet tunes. Give the cube any title one wishes, and let us begin.
Established in a nearly-top-down camera, Luminous Labyrinth will have players directing the cube throughout each maze to reach the end and move on to the next. This is done in a similar system seen in a few titles prior, which I usually reference the ‘ice puzzles’ made popular in early Pokemon titles as players only input a single direction and the cube launches in that direction until it reaches another crossroad. If the pathway is extremely short due to it ending abruptly (see above on the left), the cube is bounced back to the original position. As players explore each level, new mechanics are introduced to allow for augmentations to how the game is approached. Arrows on the floor will cause the player to be thrown in that direction all the way to its corresponding arrow, allowing for quick traversal across many corners. Auras are acquired which give a timed glow to the cube, allowing for it to destroy any angry shape of the same colour to make traversal safer, or open certain doors to alter the landscape completely. Launchers that turn the cube in to a pinball and just toss it in the direction of choice by the player, which comes with the hazard of the cube being destroyed if it cannot properly land in a square correctly. Now death does sound painful, but never fear; at nearly every important crossroad, either due to enemies, moving doors, or just because it’s been a while, there is a checkpoint engrained in the floor. Death simply returns the player to that square checkpoint, no questions asked.
This entire gameplay system also allows for the secondary objective; the orb collection. Much like how Pac-man searches his maze for orbs, so too does our cube wish to consume the orbs that are scattered throughout. The main difference? This isn’t mandatory to continue, something only necessary for those who wish to 100% everything and love to see those hundreds plastered all over the board (it’s me, I’m that person). These orb do allow for players to explore the maze in its entirety and marvel at the craftsmanship of the design, or accidentally get one killed because they tried to get greedy and save a few seconds. Tons of possibilities, really.
With all of the levels to Blue complete (8 maps per level, I believe), Luminous Labyrinth is a visual feast to enjoy and play. There are so many little things that I barely noticed but ended up loving, like how where ever the cube goes, the tops of the maze illuminate a white instead of their default colour to show where you’ve been. The main menu is another thing I’d love to give a callout to, laying out the entire game’s UI as if we were still playing the game to play the game while still having a ‘down’ that allows for return to the main menu instantly. It’s the little things that help a game stand out, and this definitely stands out as one to try out. If you love mazes of colours and want to enjoy it where ever (it’s on Android as well!) then this might be exactly what you are looking for.
Flying through treacherous terrain, avoiding dangerous enemies, while scavenging everything you can find. Scrapper is…