TheIndieJar: Cryptic Sea EP Preview
It’s pretty interesting how designer, CrypticSea, has used a music analogy and created an Extended Play collection out of three games he is currently developing, known as the Cryptic Sea EP. Skate or Don’t, Volta and Touring Car Legend are available together for $3 using the Humble Store widget on his website. That’s pretty awesome, as previously CrypticSea has also made his other games: A New Zero, Hockey? and the best known, Sub Rosa, entirely free. Those are all great by the way and you should try them out for some great multiplayer fun – according to his blog on July 1st they have amassed over 1 million plays between them!
The first game (and my favourite) is Skate or Don’t – an infinite downhill skating course with jumps, bumps and poles to dodge around. The 2D world rushes around you as you try to compete with the physics by shifting your weight forward, back and down. Crouching also lets you hop to either avoid stuff that can take you off your board or to boost the air you get from a ramp. It has a learning curve, but there are some cool tricks you can do once you master the board! Each attempt is procedurally generated and can throw you off your board if you don’t think ahead. Sometimes there are rows of obstacles and jumps that just don’t seem to let up, while jumping too high or landing with your board at the wrong angle can flip you around – your little stick boarder will smash their head on the ground. Bailing can still look entertaining when the boarder rolls ass over face down a hill, arms flailing. More impressive and still awesome looking are the moments where you magically recover from a seemingly impossible spin, either watching your character balance themselves on one wheel and a hand to the floor or get shaken up, landing with the board flat on the ground.
Volta is a very different game, still with the physics and bouncing around but this time you get to do it in a connect three Tetris style puzzle game. It starts off slow and lets you get used to it, but after a while the time you get to position and float your new block around gets shorter until you are throwing these things into the stack of jumbled, coloured blocks to try and squish some matches together. It’s a purely joyful game that doesn’t take itself or it’s predecessors seriously. Ignore that you have blocks, move them around and crush them together. They’ll fit somehow! Ignore that they have to fall down and chuck them in any old direction! Ignore the grid in the background, they can squash together diagonally if they need to! You get the idea. You don’t even have to keep the three blocks you connected together either; match them up and then push your electrified brick towards another of the same kind to rack up the points. It’s as if Volta was at video game school learning to be a puzzle game, went to the lesson about Connect 3 and then dossed off for the rest of the year with his action game friends. There are also some puzzles that make you think a bit more about how you’re supposed to throw those blocks around by being given specific ones and clearing a grid. There is plenty of fun in this one for all sorts of player.
Accompanying these two fine games is a third called Touring Car Champion. While it is only a demo you can play what there is of it forever. An unusual top down driving game, there is a selection between a Mini, Sprint or Camaro cars which vary mostly in cornering, grip and raw speed. The Mini is for noobs (which is probably why I like it) and sticks to the road like glue, but obviously not as fast as the sportier Sprint or Camaro. Aside from the usual “race round the circuit 3 times to see who wins” set up of the game, in between races you can court a lady friend of yours with the winnings. Either that or upgrade your car, depends on which you care about more! Story elements reveal themselves, such as gaining hilariously stereotyped sponsorships that quote one of my favourite songs with “Have a cigar, you’re going to go far.” Similar updates about other drivers are given in the pre-race qualifying laps. I see some potential in this one, but Cryptic Sea isn’t giving much away about the game in the demo!
I shall reiterate that this album of games is the most fun you will have for $3. Go buy it and find a way to play 8-person Skate or Don’t and co-op Volta because silly fun multiplayer is where Cryptic Sea’s forte seems to be!