Disclaimer: I am also competing. I am not a judge!
Artificer’s Quest: The Staff of Ivalder [Download me!]
This is a Single-Player Game. I’m not entirely sure what language it was made on, but it uses the Enigma Game Engine which is made in C++, but uses Java as the IDE. Confused yet? Nevermind the technicalities.
I couldn’t compile my own copy of the game in Fedora 17. Apparently using C++0x isn’t supported just yet. I did manage to use the 32bit Debian Binary, by using yum install openal-soft-devel alure dumb, then creating a symlink ln -s /usr/lib/libdumb-0.9.3.so /usr/lib/libdumb.so.1 so that the binary would actually run.
The game quickly offers you a graphic on how to control it. The menus can only be controlled using the Arrow Keys, and Spacebar. You can select which chapter to go to, which is a great replacement for a save system, as well as a way to get past should you get stuck on a level that’s too hard.
Once inside the game, you can move around using WASD keys. The first thing you might notice is that the player won’t face the direction you’re moving to, but the direction your mouse is pointing to. Using the 1 and 2 keys, you can switch between your spells, and using left and right clicks on the mouse can trigger each set of spells.
There’s a total of four spells to use, a green fireball (that moves to where your mouse is aiming!), a small fire which causes burns to the enemy, as well as a stone wall and an ice wall attack. You’ve got limited mana, and the stone/ice attacks drain a lot of it. I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but it using these spells also slow down your player a lot, to the point of making the final 2 chapters nearly impossible to beat.
There are blue question boxes lying around with hints as well as a story. Enemies chase after you and shoot all sorts of beams in your direction, making this sort of an Adventure Bullet Hell type of game, specially in the final two levels.
The levels have you destroy an item that spawns the creatures, so concentrating on eliminating all the creatures while running just won’t cut it, you must aim for the actual… thing… where the creatures are spawning and destroy it. The levels are short and well built. I liked the variety of maps and enemies.
As I’ve stated, Level 2.4 was insanely hard, with dozens of slimes heading your way shooting dozens of green bullets, as well as a black variety that explodes on contact. I’m embarrassed to say that after multiple attempts, I ended up skipping the level.
I’m not sure what happens at the end of level 2.4, but the final level has all those slimes on your side! The game turns from a bullet shooter, to a team bullet shooter, with your slimes attacking their skeletons and ghosts (Ugh, I hate these ghosts!) while you attempt to destroy the items that are spawning these creatures.
Despite multiple tactics, like staying behind the slimes, I couldn’t get close to killing at least of the things that spawned the skeletons or the ghosts and beating the final level. The problem with slowing your character after using magic really affects the gameplay, and I’m not sure if its a bug or a feature, I didn’t see the framerate drop while the spikes were on-screen.
Besides the slowdown, the other thing that I disliked about the game was that once you failed at the level, there was no clear way to restart, so I ended up pressing Esc to bring up the menu, which can’t be controlled using WASD, and select the chapter I was in. A ‘restart’ button might’ve encouraged me to try a couple more times, rather than go through all the menu options each time I died.
If these types of games are easy for you, and the normal game wasn’t hard enough (It was for me!), the game also provides a Challenge Mode which just takes things to the next level and makes everything insanely hard.
This was a fun, interesting game. I enjoyed it a lot, and that final level was really surprising and refreshing. I recommend you give the game a try!