Hands-on with PS Vita Indies - Big Sky Infinity, Knytt Underground and Panic!
There’s a shed load of cash ploughed into videogames in order to create blockbuster multi-million pound franchises that deliver epic encounters and blur the lines between fantasy and reality, but Indie developers have long been creating games that are just as much fun to play as those big-budget titles with all the marketing clout behind them.
UK publisher Ripstone, who recently backed the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita title Pure Chess, has recently put its weight behind a handful of Indie titles for PlayStation platforms - the games where it sees potential for success based on entertainment value and good old fashioned gameplay - and is now collaborating with Sony to bring a trio of games to PS3, PS Vita and PlayStation Mobile.
At Gamescom, we met up with three Indie developers who have poured their hearts and souls into their latest projects for PlayStation platforms, and we were lucky enough to spend time in their company and get an exclusive hands-on look at the games that they hope will make an impact.
Indie devs taking Vita by storm. From left to right: Nicklas Nygren (Nifflas), Nicolas Marinus (Thumbs Up), and James Whitehead (Boss Baddie.)
Big Sky Infinity – by James Whitehead, Boss Baddie
Big Sky Infinity is a side-scrolling twin-stick shooter due for release on PS3 and PS Vita via digital download in late 2012/early 2013. In a collaboration with Voofoo Studios, Whitehead has built upon his previous games for PC, Big Sky and Really Big Sky, to create his first ever game on console and handheld.
Big Sky Infinity immediately impresses visually on Vita’s 5-inch screen with vibrant backgrounds and bursts of colour filling the screen from the space-based explosions as players control a ship and seek to destroy the alien forces that are intent on invading the planet.
Though the premise is familiar, the gameplay is absorbing and feels remarkably fresh with many different enemy types, weapons and game mechanics to juggle and contend with. Cleverly, Whitehead has ensured that Big Sky Infinity is both accessible and challenging, creating missions that adapt dynamically to your skill level. If you’re struggling to get past a wave of enemies, the A.I. adapts to give you more of a fighting chance and as you improve the difficulty level ramps up.
Like many games of this ilk, Big Sky Infinity is a fast-paced shooter, requiring players to think on their feet and move around screen tactically to avoid obstacles and gun-fire and get into the best positions for taking down the enemy. We were given a look at one of the alternate fire modes that will be available as our ship turned into a drilling machine capable of blasting through planets.
Based on our brief hands-on time with Big Sky Infinity, it’s clear to see why Really Big Sky was nominated for an Indie Arcade Game of the Year Award in 2011. This latest iteration is fast-paced, gameplay is challenging and the art design visually exciting. The ship is intuitive to control, the boss battles are intense, and the A.I. reacts cleverly ensuring that you’re totally absorbed in the action, unable to take your eyes off the screen for one second.
Like previous games in the series, Big Sky Infinity will include a comprehensive upgrade system and will seek to encourage competition with online leaderboards. 2-4 players are catered for in local co-op play on PS3 and they’ll be support for asynchronous multiplayer on Vita. If the upgrade system and variety of weapon-types and enemies live up to what we’ve already seen, we’re in for a real treat when Big Sky Infinity lands later this year.
Knytt Underground - by Nicklas Nygren of Nifflas
Knytt and Knytt stories have already received critical acclaim among PC gamers having been downloaded over one million times. This latest adventure, in which Nifflas has teamed up with Green Hill Studios, is the biggest and most ambitious game to date and is sure to thrill existing fans and anyone new to the series.
Due to be released on PS3, PS Vita, PC, Mac and Linux, Knytt Underground is a ... (continued on next page)
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