Supergiant Games‘ first foray, Bastion, needs no introduction, but the indie developer’s next project, Transistor, leaves Bastion‘s titular deconstructed world for a sooty, neon future noirscape.  Players direct Red, a singer on the run who finds the swordlike Transistor – and inside it, a partner to help her evade the assassins sent to stop them from uncovering a conspiracy of abduction and murder.

On Supergiant’s blog, the latest post opens the possibility of revisiting the world of Bastion, but the experience of building a new world to tell a new story was too irresistible for the Supergiant team to pass up.

“I think one of the things that people enjoyed was our fantasy world with its own distinct feel that we had fun creating,” said Supergiant Creative Director Greg Kasavin. “We wanted to see if we could do it again, but there were certain themes that wouldn’t be appropriate for Bastion‘s world.”

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If Bastion was Supergiant’s take on fantasy, Transistor is their take on science fiction, and it shows in the new role for Supergiant favorite Logan Cunningham. Known for gently leading the player with his western drawl as Bastion‘s Narrator, Cunningham plays a softer role as the soul residing in the Transistor. Once Red plucks the titular swordthing from a body, Cunningham’s voice is along for the ride, a link to the mysterious dead the pair find along the way and, in time, a caring partner for the hunted protagonist. Moving away from Bastion was a universal decision for the team, but keeping Cunningham’s voice was important to Supergiant’s storytelling style. Though the soul in the Transistor’s voice is more of a detective than an omniscient but glib narrator, retaining the accompanying voice allows players to advance at their own pace.

And advance they do, through the lushly-drawn quadrants of lonely streets peppered with pursuing bots’ bullets. The isometric engagements are spliced with side-scrolling interludes wherein the massive city, ablaze in neon, looms over Red and the soul in the Transistor – one of Kasavin’s aforementioned themes, of the pair’s growing intimacy against the alienating grandeur of a metropolis filled with malevolent things.

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“The single most important thing for us about Transistor was to make sure that it had its own distinct voice,” Kasavin said.

Unlike Bastion‘s post-Calamity game world that fills in as the player progresses, Transistor‘s streets and structure sit idly locked by those hunting Red. Whereas Bastion comes together around the player like a re-forming memory, the soul inside the Transistor finds streets changed from his earthly days. Supergiant Art Director Jen Zee’s style makes Bastion fans at home with her hand-drawn art direction, swapping rustic tiles for urban watercolor.

Gameplay

Terraced blocks litter the combat zones, bringing a digital edge to the game’s lush look, but it’s a reminder of the balance Supergiant needs to strike if it wants to lure in gamers looking for something beyond Bastion while retaining the fanbase that adores Supergiant’s signature visuals.

Despite similar elements to Bastion, Transistor is striking out to prove that a scrappy woman and a talking sword will take you willingly into its strange, dark world.

RememberMeFuturistic mind-warp adventure game Remember Me finally has a solid release date, and will be hitting stores across the US on June 4 and in Europe on June 7. According to Polygon, it’s a bit later than planned — Capcom representatives had initially promised a May release. Regardless, Remember Me is setting up to be a huge burden of proof for French developer DontNod, a rookie company that has been working on the game (under the title Adrift) for the last four years.

The concept of the game is a little out-of-the-box compared to standard action games like Uncharted 3 or Tomb Raider, particularly due to its futuristic setting: The player is Nilin, an “memory hunter” in NeoParis in 2084 who can alter the memories of anyone she encounters. Nilin herself is without her own memories — the shadowy company Memoryeyes has robbed her of them and she must traverse across Neo-Paris to get them back. To do so, she relies on her employer Edge, who supplies Nilin with much-needed (and forgotten) information to stay a step ahead.

The company released a new (18+) trailer of the game, which shows off the game’s story:

In addition to a futuristic look and feel, DontNod has added micromanage-y yet very cool Combo Lab that enables players to seamlessly click together powers, called “pressens,” to unleash customized combos. Another key feature of the game is taking advantage of Nilin’s memory-altering skills to convince targets to take certain actions — seen in this gameplay video from GamesCom 2012.

What do you think of Remember Me? Let us know in the comments.

MewGenicsOnly from the warped, sadistic and utterly hilarious mind of Edmund McMillen and Team Meat would there emerge a cat lady simulator

McMilled debuted the gameplay details of his new title, Mew-Genics, on his personal blog. The result of more than five months of tinkering, the title looks to be a hardcore simulator of the life of a cat collector of the caliber you’d see on Hoarders. Collecting strays, breeding your felines, and maintaining enough resources to actually keep all cats alive and not brutally fighting each other or eating their own babies seem to be all fair play in the game, which up until now had been a series of screenshots and concept art.

Here’s a quote from the post:

“There are so many elements to Mew-Genics that i really dont feel like this post does it justice.. and honestly im not even sure how the hell we are going to come up with a short eloquent way of selling this game in a description, but i think that gameplay story sums up what our goal is, we want to create a living world where cats act like cats and your and their actions actually matter.”

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The gameplay certainly sounds like it’s built on a solid simulation foundation, a giddy cross between The Sims and Tamagotchi. But when looking at McMillen’s track record — the disgusting and brutally difficult adventures within Super Meatboy and the twisted homage to Christianity, child abuse and abortion that is Binding of Isaac, it’s hard to fathom how many strings will be hidden within MewGenics to pull you into utterly embarrassing cat lady failure.

The game is slated for both an iOS and Steam release, but no firm date has been set. What do you think of Mew-Genics? Let us know in the comments.

AnnoyedGamerThe world of gaming coverage is a tangled one, and publications often skate along a tenuous relationship with development companies. On one hand, outlets are in an arms race to get exclusive coverage — on the other, the audience desires fair and balanced reviews. Go too far in one direction, and outlets risk losing valuable PR relationships. Step too far in the other, and you end up with developer-serving reviews like the EGM critique of Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines.

This push-pull is the particular subject of ire for this week’s Annoyed Gamer series, in which the Annoyed Gamer himself Marcus Beer described his annoyance at the expectation that journalists must go to any lengths to please the PR world into gaining access to games. He also expressed outrage at the concept of withholding future access to games upon refusal to preview or set up special coverage:

“Here’s the deal: if you don’t do stupid stuff, we won’t talk about it,” Beer says in his video. “If you don’t release shitty games, we won’t bitch about them. Am I getting through to you? Is my logic finally appealing to you?”

But of course, PR is not the only party at fault in this behavior. Waffling and self-serving reviewers are just as complicit in presenting disinformation or bad reviews to the public. Tough questions, Beer says, are the only way to keep the relationship professional.

“We need to be asking the questions and the PR people. And the developers and the publishers, they’ve got to learn to take the rough with the smooth. Don’t go threatening us with embargoes or threatening us with blacklisting.”

Check out the video below:

What do you think of the Annoyed Gamer’s complaints? Are journalists too soft on gaming PR reps? Let us know in the comments.

[Annoyed Gamer via GameTrailers]

hero-landing-oneIs there a magic formula for video game success? The aptly named Game Analytics certainly thinks so — and has offered its big data on gaming behavior to development companies. After raising $2.5 million from well-known VCs like CrunchFund and Sunstone Capital, it’s clear that others think so, too.

The goal of Game Analytics is to serve real-time data about how users engage with a game in real-time, similar to the way marketers scan business websites for engagement and retention. Developers would be able to balance and adjust features of their own games, based on how long users spend time with a game and how often they come back to it over a designated period of time.  While the current dashboard only hints at effectiveness within an MMORPG or social gaming scenario (and website language indicates that it would be a helpful tool for a game that relies on micro-transactions), there’s a possibility that the system could help games in private beta.

One of the most interesting data points is the visualization of level “heat maps,” which enable developers to see hotspots where gamers tend to frequent or get stuck. The system directly integrates into a developer’s Unity console, giving accurate and exact representations of each level, pixel by pixel.

See the visualization below:

Image courtesy Gaming Analytics
Image courtesy Gaming Analytics

What do you think of developers using analytics to tweak their games? Let us know in the comments.