Microsoft recently invited us to a presentation for some of its titles released under the label (email protected), designed to further the development and promotion of indie games. No vacuous knights or silky songs, unfortunately, but in any case we were faced with four exponents worthy of interest: The Last Case of Benedict Fox, Everspace 2, Planet of Lana e Lightyear Frontier.
BENEDICT FOX, OCCULT INVESTIGATOR
No, a “dell” is not missing from the title above. To be occult is in fact the protagonist himself of The Last Case of Benedict Fox, given that he lives in symbiosis with some kind of demon who, in addition to granting him access to skills far beyond those of ordinary human beings, also acts as a gloomy chat companion and allows the young man to visit other people’s memories, such as those of the deceased father. As you probably guessed, the Plot Twist game makes gloomy atmospheres one of its main points of attraction, atmospheres that are well highlighted by the remarkable visual style; if you really want to be annoying, you could perhaps make some notes on the animations, but let’s remember that we are not dealing with a large studio.
As for the game formula, that of The Last Case of Benedict Fox is openly inspired by metrodvania, even if from the gameplay that we have been able to see the impression is that more than focusing on the combat (which is there anyway: one can’t expect to visit the memories of the dead without finding some demon in front of them) the game wants to take on a similar cut investigative, with objects to find that will gradually reveal the story behind the relationship with the father and the role of the mysterious organization that is hunting Benedict Fox, and puzzles to solve that will surely test your synapses. Launch date still shrouded in inscrutable mists, but scheduled for next spring.
EVERSPACE 2 IN INFINITE SPACE
Well, not quite infinite. Rockfish gladly leaves the task of creating a solar system with hundreds and hundreds of planets to others and prefers to limit his goals. Which is not to say that the Demilitarized Zone includes four crossed asteroids, of course: after debuting the roguelike model for the first chapter, with Everspace 2 the German studio wanted to aim big, with a game that we already defined as “open space” and looter shooter-like mechanics at the time of its Early Access debut. The presentation that took place within the frame of (email protected) focused in particular on the latest updates that the Steam version of the game has received. The first introduced the Drake system and its two planets: one covered in lava and the other in water and ice, which with its appearance in the trailer also showcased the underwater capabilities of our spaceship. The writer of this piece has a damn phobia of everything that happens below the surface of the water in video games, but who knows, maybe being armed to the teeth will help to overcome the exploration of these areas as well.
Michael Schade of Rockfish, after clarifying how the imprint of the game is more arcade but also includes options for those who prefer a space driving style more comparable to that of the space sims, then spoke to us about the second recent addition to Everspace 2: the Ancient Rifts, or the “endgame” activity of Everspace 2. Upon entering these cosmic gates we will be able to decide how difficult we want the challenge that will be proposed to us to be and, consequently, how rich the loot will be; we will then have to overcome four areas full of enemies ready to kill us and then face a final boss before being able to get our hands on the coveted reward. There’s no denying: already two years ago, when it was still far from finished, Everspace 2 had decidedly convinced us. What we have seen in the last few hours only makes the wait for the April 6thwhen the game comes out on PC. Console users, on the other hand, will have to wait a few more months: the arrival on Xbox Series X | S is scheduled for the summer of 2023.
PLANET OF WOOL, A SWEET COMBINATION
We remain in the futuristic space but we definitely change tone: from the high-explosion rate clashes of Everspace 2 we pass to the adventure that responds to the name of Planet of Lana. Now announced in November 2021, the first thing that strikes you about this game is certainly its very delicate artistic style, which as explained by the CEO of the Wishfully development studio Adam Stjärlnjus (are all those consonants in a row legal?) does not fail to pay tribute to studio Ghibli films; great source of inspiration was in particular the film Spirited Away. Always oriental origins but American training has the author of the remarkable sound accompaniment, which is none other than Takeshi Furukawa, former composer of the excellent music of The Last Guardian; instead all Italian are the various background noises that we will hear wandering through the deserts and forests of this curious planet, given that the sound design bears the signature of the Settete collective.
For the rest, the game structure, inspired by 2D adventures such as Limbo, Inside, Oddworld and Flashback, seems rather simple even if of course this does not go to its discredit: our goal will be to guide the young protagonist and her small and fluffy animal companion between the various settings that Planet of Lana will put in front of us, solving simple puzzles and gradually discovering the history and mysteries of this celestial body. Expected exit for spring 2023on Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and of course like all the other games presented here, this one will also be available on Xbox Game Pass from day one.
LIGHTYEAR FRONTIER: MECHANIZED CULTIVATION
To close the presentation (email protected) Lightyear Frontier thought about it, which to want to summarize it brutally is what would happen if we united The Riftbreaker and Stardew Valley. Or rather, actually of The Riftbreaker it only takes the fact that we go around on a mech, for the rest the formula is typical of farming games such as Stardew Valley: we land in an uninhabited area on an alien planet, we start the construction of buildings and fields without having to worry about regulatory plans and similar problems, we explore alien ruins and so on. I have to tell the truth, as someone who has a minimum of experience in growing vegetables, seeing the mech irrigate freshly planted seeds with a jet of high pressure water distributed moreover in an irregular manner made me suffer on a spiritual level, but for the rest the game of Frame Break seems the perfect choice for those who want to spend a few hours in total relaxation, especially considering that in the gameplay that we have been able to see there was no trace of fighting of any kind. However, cooperative play will be possible for up to four players, perfect for building or gathering resources together. Lightyear Frontier still doesn’t have a defined launch window beyond a generic 2023, but the developers invite us to follow their progress on the official site.
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