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Vlambeer and Adam Atomic's Venus Patrol-exclusive games revealed


If you contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for Brandon Boyer's upcoming indie game website, Venus Patrol, you gained the promise of access to exclusive new games from superstar developers Vlambeer (Super Crate Box), Adam Atomic (Canabalt), Superbrothers (Sword & Sworcery), and Die Gute Fabrik (Where Is My Heart?)

Die Gute Fabrik's screenless Move party game, Johann Sebastian Joust, went out to contributors on November 17. Last weekend, at a party for the website, I got the opportunity to play the new games by Adam Atomic and Vlambeer, and to see work-in-progress footage of the one from Superbrothers.

Gallery: Gun Godz (PC) | 4 Photos

Atomic's Venus Patrol-exclusive game is Capsule, made in collaboration with Deep Sea creator and sound engineer Robin Arnott. It casts players in the role of a lonely space capsule pilot, whose only view of his environment is a grainy black-and-white CRT (complete with simulated curved glass and ghosting effects) displaying a map of surrounding space. Players attempt to fly to a series of docking locations, like nearby probes, guided by coordinates at the bottom of the screen. As they travel, they must find fuel and oxygen pickups by scanning with the space bar and then flying into them.

Gallery: Capsule (PC/Mac) | 7 Photos

Arnott's influence is clear when played with headphones. The only soundtrack in Capsule is the ambient noise you'd hear if you were inside: the sound of the engine, which responds to your controls, some bleeping computer noises, and the breathing of the pilot, which grows increasingly labored as your oxygen supply dwindles. It's quite distressing to be forced to listen to this after running out of power, just waiting for your in-game self to suffocate. The simple gameplay is augmented by the deeply atmospheric visual and audio effects.

Vlambeer's Gun Godz is nowhere near as creepy. Vlambeer calls it a "polytheistic, hip-hop inspired first-person shooter in the style of the classics," and it's hard to come up with a better description than that. In graphical presentation and level architecture it evokes Wolfenstein 3D, but with a persistent rap soundtrack (in Venusian, of course -- preview a track here) and enemies that look to me like some kind of koala-men. But with the chunky low-res sprites, the enemies appear to be up to interpretation. While the levels remain Wolf3D-flat in layout, there are a few visual details that iD Software couldn't pull off back then, like circular doorways in walls.

The story involves a Venusian hip-hop star escaping from prison and attempting to take down the evil record label executive responsible for his incarceration. My brief experience at the Venus Patrol party had me walking out of a cell and through a complex of prison cells and, later, sewer pipes. I had to shoot at those ... things and some kind of evil purple spheres using both a handgun and a chaingun weapon I found.

IGF chair and Venus Patrol proprietor Brandon Boyer also demonstrated an in-progress game from Superbrothers, which has yet to be named. In its current form, it's a 3D vehicle game in which an amphibious vehicle crosses a minimalist landscape, trailing a kind of brightly colored string behind it. In the demonstration, one mission ended when the vehicle encountered a lighthouse on the shore. The next snippet of gameplay was a boss fight, in which Boyer deftly drove to avoid missiles landing around him in staccato lines, set to the tune of the soundtrack.

Capsule and Gun Godz are likely due by the end of the year. When they are released, of course, it'll be only to those who supported the Venus Patrol Kickstarter campaign. But at least you now know what these indies have been up to -- and what you're getting, or missing.

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