Rick’s been playing games since before he could walk. I went from an NES to a PS3 with nothing in between. We love to game together, but finding games we can both enjoy can be tough. Indie Game Date is our quest to find great indie games that both of us will love.
Schmoozing the Montreal indie game scene certainly has its perks. You might remember me gushing about getting to meet the team behind previous Indie Game Date Wizorb, a.k.a. Tribute Games when Rick and I were demoing at the IGDA event earlier this year. While I didn’t get a chance to play the demo of their new game, Mercenary Kings, at PAX East like I’d planned, I did run into studio co-founder J.F. Major shortly after Tribute’s trip to E3 and he promised to hook me up with an early release version of the game.
I was particularly excited about getting to play Mercenary Kings because on top of awesome pixel art and great retro music, it’s got 4 PLAYER LOCAL CO-OP!!! That’s right. UP TO FOUR PEOPLE CAN PLAY THE GAME, WHILE IN THE SAME ROOM!!! Crazy, right?
So anyways, the game itself is an action platformer, which made me a little nervous since it’s not my strongest genre. However, I have been playing a lot more games recently and Rick was nice enough to let me play with his new PC controller, while he got stuck playing on the keyboard. Currently there’s only two playable characters to chose from, so I took the girl and Rick took the boy.
Right off the bat I was struck by the art of the game. It is lush and detailed in a way your don’t always see with pixel-art style games. The controls were very smooth (for me, anyways) and I was pleasantly surprised at how much better I had gotten at platforming. That said, I still basically suck, but not nearly as hard as I used to. But do not be fooled by this comment. This game is TOUGH, especially if you’re playing on keyboard like poor Rick. Which isn’t to say it’s a punisher or anything, but you definitely need to be on your A game, otherwise you will die. A lot. There were several missions we failed multiple times.
And yet, in only an hour of play we were able to complete the first 4 missions, which also unlock the ability to customize your weapons. Yup, that’s right stats fetishists, you can mix and match all sorts of supplies you pick up to build your very perfect Franken-weapon with just the right fire-rate and damage.
Personally I found the mission where you had to kill a bunch of critters particularly tough because they were all sooooo cute, I couldn’t bare to shoot them. Also, the game has capybaras. And little amazon women that ride on capaybaras.
There were also these little walking eggplant things that you had to lie-down to shoot that were really tough. However, their death animation is very cute and gorey, making killing them extra satisfying.
The other thing that I really liked about the game was that the different players could actually go off and check out different parts of the map during the same mission. While sometimes it was best for us to stick together and let Rick clear the way for me, once we’d gotten the lay of certain levels we could share the objective and clear levels even faster.
Rick’s frustration with the keyboard did degenerate into a lot of shouting of profanities, but apparently that’s just how he plays platformers. That said, I definitely think he’d agree that the game was super-hella fun and definitely something we’ll be coming back to. Especially once it’s all done and released on PS4.
If you’re really keen on checking the game out before the official release later this year, you can pick up the pre-release copy on Steam for $14.99, which will also get you a copy of the game once it’s all done.
And, on a totally random, but super-cool note, I’M GOING TO BE IN THE GAME!!!
Yup. I’m going to be providing the voice of Empress, one of the default playable characters. I haven’t recorded my lines yet, so I guess this could be subject to change, but I’m crazy excited. Hopefully it all goes well, but I’m sure I’ll tell you about that when it happens. 😉