Readers of a certain generation, think back to your school days. Teacher got the laptops out for this lesson, which meant one thing- playing flash games on Newgrounds for an hour and minimising the window every time Teacher got close.
Window-minimising excepted, Ballistick is exactly the kind of thing you’d usually end up playing.
As I was rolling the dice to determine my next game, I opined aloud that I felt sorry for the game which had to follow Pyre, a game which burrowed its way into my soul and has remained on my mind long after I’d finished it. In some way, having judged the book by its cover, I was glad of what the dice gave me.
That’s probably unfair to Ballistick, which despite looking and playing like a flash game from 15 years ago (coincidentally, that’s apparently when development started) has some decent thought put into it. There’s stealth and cover mechanics implemented and mission objectives beyond the Kill Them All shown above.
Fin or Bin:
Unfortunately, it’s still a flash game in spirit. It’s entertaining enough to distract from Mrs Thompson’s wasted efforts to teach us what LLCs are, but that’s a tremendously low bar. Considering Newgrounds still exists with a whole glut of these kinds of games for Absolutely $0, I just don’t see myself ever casting my eye over Ballistick again, even for nostalgia’s sake. Bin!
Supergiant Games created Bastion, one of my all-time favourites, as well as Transistor, which was also fantastic, if a little less my kind of thing. Pyre has some significant pedigree to live up to as their third title, and also I’d bet pound to a penny that it’s gonna make me sob.
All the Supergiant hallmarks are here- the artstyle and somewhat eccentric presentation, the soundtrack, and hundreds of little snippets of lore that can be happily ignored if you so choose. Conspicuously absent is the narration of Logan Cunningham, who insteads takes the role of whoever it is overseeing The Rites- a kind of spiritual soccer where a player’s aura can temporarily knock an opponent out of the game.
There’s a lot of controls and I’m currently getting a little overwhelmed by my options during matches, where a split second decision counts for a lot. It’s all very responsive however- that’s certainly user error, and a learning curve is to be expected when freedom is on the line.
Fin or Bin:
I was a little dubious of the direction Pyre took during development, sports games not being my thing at all. But, the Supergiant-ness of it all is more than enough to keep me going until the Finish.
It’s an isometric cyberpunk sneaky tactics game by the same fine folks who made Mark Of The Ninja. It plays somewhat similarly to ancient classics Space Crusade and Heroquest (which sadly are the most recent examples I can think of). I thought it had a story campaign, but the missions are actually randomised… and an alarm went off in my head:
“This is a rogue-like!”
Offended, I immediately shut it down and consigned it to the bin. But…
I got the bug, bad. I’ve played 4 hours of it already and I’m hooked.
Invisible Inc. gets raided by The Corporations and its agents are scattered to the winds. Invisible’s AI datacentre can only last on backup power for 72 hours, so the remaining agents must race against time to regroup and build up their firepower for a raid against The Corps to hijack a server powerful enough to get their AI up and running again.
After the training mission, you’re presented with a small selection of random missions, each of which will bolster your reserves in some way- be it a prison compound housing one of your captured agents who will join your team upon rescue, or a cybernetics laboratory which houses equipment you can use to augment your agents.
Each destination has a travel time, so there’s more at stake than just consdering what kind of boon would be most beneficial to your team. Getting a new agent would be great, but it is worth spending 12 of the 72 hours to get there, or better to spend 6 raiding a nearby weapons facility?
Campaigns are hugely customisable for difficulty too, making guards more or less alert, increasing or reducing the amount of time they can be knocked out for, size and complexity of maps… it’s endless (and Endless Mode is one of the options too).
Fin or Bin:
I’m in the final six hours of my first campaign, played on baby mode because I still don’t like rogue-likes. I intend to Finish this run- not sure yet if I’ll play another immediately after, but I’m confident I’ll be coming back to Invisible Inc over the next few years.