Inferno 2

Please sir, I cannot tell a lie – I absolutely love Radian Games stuff. One of the select few developers that I’m fairly likely to grab pretty much anything and everything they put out, if at all possible.

Whilst their very first XBLIG release (the wonderfully titled “Joy Joy”) slightly missed the mark for me, I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve played of their twin stick and shootybang games since, XBLIG, phone and on. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite (seriously, I like them that much) but if you really made me choose, Inferno in all its incarnations would be pretty much near the top of my list.

It was the easiest sell for me. It’s essentially Berzerk meets Gauntlet with the faintest hint of ARPG to it. Pretty much the kind of game I’ve spent the best part of 40 years losing hours to and I don’t really see any reason to change in that regard. Especially not whilst I’m still enjoying myself so much with that kind of thing.

You no doubt know the drill already. You find yourself in a maze, you have to get to the exit. Between you and the exit lies an enormous amount of enemies and a number of locked doors. Collect keys to pass through the doors, use lasers to get rid of the enemies. Get to the exit, find yourself in a new maze with more enemies, more doors more keys and do it all again.

It’s a videogame in the absolute purest sense. A direct descendant of I don’t know how many arcade and home computer games, a game that does exactly what it needs to do with absolutely no bloat or complication. A game where you get from one end of a maze to another, with colourful lasers.

I love it.

I love that there’s very little in it that couldn’t have existed in the eighties but also, it absolutely could not have existed as the game it is then. The upgrade shop, the absurd amount of particles, the much more relaxed difficulty curve make it more a game of the now. Did I mention the absurd amount of particles? It has an absurd amount of particles. It’s great. I love particles, me.

Anyway, it’s been around a few years on the PC but with it recently (finally!) seeing a console release I’ve been playing through it all over again and yep, still works for me. Still works for me very well indeed.

Tachyon Project

If you ever needed (more) proof that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing at the best of times, I bought Tachyon Project at release in 2015, mentally filed it under “not very good” for some reason long lost to the mists of time and never returned to it.

This was quite clearly a mistake because Tachyon Project is pretty far from not very good and it’s been a game I keep coming back to these past few months and enjoying myself with it immensely.

I mean, I know I have a habit of being wrong sometimes but this seemed awfully self defeatingly wrong given how much enjoyment I’ve clearly been denying myself.

Oh well, it’s done now. No real harm done.

It’s probably obvious from the screenshots but Tachyon Project is a dual stick arena shooter in a similar vein to Geometry Wars. I doubt any genre fans will find anything especially surprising in here – it’s all rather familiar in its own little way but that’s fine, right? Perfectly fine. We don’t have to reinvent everything with every new game. Sometimes “more, a bit like that other thing” is *exactly* what I want from a game.

Not that Tachyon Project doesn’t do enough to stand alone, it certainly does – it plays around with its own selection of glowing enemies, modes and what have you. Just the smaller arena alone is enough to give the game a different enough vibe.

It’s unquestionably its own game, doing its own thing, just in an awfully familiar space.

Probably the biggest gulf between Tachyon Project and Geometry Wars comes courtesy of the difficulty. Whereas Geometry Wars can be remarkably punishing in all its incarnations, Tachyon Project is much, much, much, much more gentle. If I had to describe it in a word, that word would be “softer”. If I had to describe it in a sound, that sound would be “pew”. It’s a softer pew (try sneaking that one past autocorrect).

So yeah, it’s usually a little over a fiver and a really enjoyable blast. Still no idea why I put it down first time round though.

Swordlord

Maybe it’s the hefty weight of 2019 but I can’t say I was expecting pangs of nostalgia for videogames from around ten or so years ago.

Swordlord isn’t, as far as I’m aware, from ten years ago but it really, really, really wouldn’t sit out of place there. You know, before XBLA and Steam slowly opening the doors to more videogames changed the landscape of games to something akin to what we have now.

Swordlord feels like the kind of game I’d have been quite excited to write about then. It’s small, it has the most absurdly silly physics and (this bit is important) is a game about hitting enemies really, really hard with weaponry until they pop, leaving a mound of cash for you to pick up. It’s kind of early Cactus via Hammer fall/Hammerfight but without the intensity of either.

You run around in circles obnoxiously fast, deciding which direction you’re going to swing your weapon in and hit anything that comes close to you. And in the game. It’s not exactly complicated.

At the end of each round, you can do a bit of videogame shopping and providing you’ve managed to hit enough things, grab yourself a bigger weapon and then get back to skidding all over the place, swinging your sword into the face of an enemy until the enemy pops and pretty much keep doing this until you’re either finished or bored, whatever.

The thing is, Swordlord might have missed the boat for getting any attention by around a decade but I’m still excited to write about it because, to no-one’s surprise, I still really enjoy small and scratchy games that make me grin. I don’t forsee that changing anytime soon either.

Honestly, there’s every chance you may not spend more than five or ten minutes mucking round with it (or maybe like me you’ll get a wee bit too much fun out of careering round the arena like Sonic The Hedgehog with a firework up his blue behind).

Thing is, that’s okay. No-one ever said games have to be big or clever and not only that, it’s less than a quid on Steam. You could pay for it by robbing someone else’s shopping trolley at the supermarket and claiming their quid back as your own if need be. Probably don’t do that though because thinking on, that’s not the best idea I’ve ever had.

So yeah. Swordlord. You hit things with a sword and you’re a lord (probably). I liked it. I don’t remember buying it but I’m thankful to past me for acquiring it, however that happened. And, you know, it’s called Swordlord which is a pretty good videogame name too.