Games are like any form of art or entertainment… you need to be in theright mood to play them (or at least to enjoy them).
Sometimes I want a game that totally surprises me, bringing me something completely unusual and off the rails that makes me sit up and say “WOW” in big shiny letters. Other times, I want something familiar, a genre that I can soak in like a warm color-bombed bath and a game that just does everything perfectly. This game will usually offer an experience I find familiar, but with something slightly different to keep it fresh, and with lots of little touches that let me know the game designer cared enough to include them.
Thankfully, in the Kickstarter realm, the world is your oyster, and you can usually find both. There are now over 200 games on Steam that started life as a Kickstarter project… some that are wacky and way out there, while others deliver the essentials with a smile.
Which brings us nicely to The Devil’s Eight and Village Monsters…
Project: The Devil’s Eight
Developer: Second Step Studios
Genre: Boss Bashing Brawler
Platform: PC (Win, Mac)
Funding Target: $32,000
What Is It?
The Devil’s Eight is what you would get if Suda 51 made Super Smash Bros. It is a trippy boss brawler that is soaked in style. Each level is completely different from the last… from the Tron-inspired neon glowing twin bosses to the red-shaded rampaging machine boss.
I mention Super Smash Bros. because The Devil’s Eight plays a lot Nintendo’s multiplayer brawler, mixing 2D movement mechanics with full 360° stages that you run around avoiding attacks from the central bosses while launching your own. Each boss is known as an Overseer, and as you progress through the game you will discover their stories, as well as unlocking chapters from your own chequered past.
Why Fund It?
The simple answer is to go watch the trailer, because it is the perfect pitch. Music is often an overlooked detail in games, but here it is not only central to the game, but to the Overseer’s health bar, which is represented by an audio visualizer. The music also provides clues as to what attacks are going to be unleashed, or what platforms are going to appear or disappear. That said, it’s not a rhythm game, you don’t lose points for moving against the grain of the track, but you still want to pay attention to the beat.
And the beats sound fantastic. The game switches between genres, from orchestral to electro-funk, with several artists debuting on the soundtrack, including Westron, Scarlet Moon, and Justin Lassen. It is a unique approach to a game, giving an artist a separate level to provide the music for, and one that feels utterly refreshing.
If The Devil’s Eight sounds simple, well, it’s not. Each boss brings a complexly different style of fighting, and you have to adapt your strategy or die repeatedly. Developers Ruben Telles and Leland Dawson have promised a merciless gaming experience, and my only wish is that it was coming to a console. If they offered a Switch option, I would be waving money at them like the Fry meme.
- Digital copy of the game, digital wallpaper, and your name in credits – $20 ($15 early bird limited to 100)
- Previous rewards, plus digital art book – $25
- Previous rewards, plus digital soundtrack – $35
- Previous rewards, plus a t-shirt – $50
- Previous rewards, plus physical art book – $80
- Previous rewards, plus physical copy of game, physical copy of soundtrack, and collector’s box art – $100
- Previous rewards, plus your name on an in-game tombstone – $250
- Previous rewards, your likeness on a mural in the game – $350
Project: Village Monsters
Developer: Josh Bossie
Genre: Monster Sim Life
Platform: PC (Win, Mac)
Funding Target: $16,000
What Is It?
Village Monsters takes games like The Sims or Animal Crossing and twists them into something new, and yet very much the same genre. In a very meta opening, you boot up an old game for the first time in decades, only to find that the evil monsters that were once the game’s antagonists have hung up their weapons and fangs and settled down for a quiet life.
And they invite you to come live with them. Jump in, and experience a relaxing and fun environment, with the added humor of the tongue-in-cheek monster townsfolk. Although it is a sim game, there are sub-quests where you explore the lands and help solve mysteries plaguing the village. Those who love collectibles will be pleased to know there is a massive compendium to fill in, with your research being added to the local museum.
Why Fund It?
Developer Josh Bossie has nailed the Earthbound/Mother art style that he was aiming for, making it both retro and yet bright and colorful. He also quotes The Secret of Monkey Island for the style of humor and comical vibes he was going for, and it certainly comes across that way in the demo.
Like most sim games, you can personalize your home, with lots of quirky additions like adding a secret room, installing a golden throne you find in the forest, or training a scabby monster to be your pet. Interact with your neighbors, solve their problems, and earn rewards. Take up some hobbies, like fishing or botany. The game also has a day/night cycle and dynamic weather that changes with the seasons. There are also special events that will appear during holidays or special times of the year.
- Digital copy of the game, special Kickstarter in-game house warming present, and your name in credits – $15
- Previous rewards, plus digital copy of the soundtrack, a signed postcard, and access to alpha and beta demos – $25
- Previous rewards, plus your name in the game – $50
- Previous rewards, plus design an item for the game – $100 (limited to 16 people)
- Previous rewards, plus design a monster traveller – $200 (limited to 16 people)
There were more rewards for Village Monsters, but the game has proven to be so popular that they have all been taken, so grab the rest while they’re hot.
Until Next Time…
Whether its through Kickstarter. IndieGoGo. Patreon, Steam, Twitter, Facebook… However you chose to do it, supporting game developers in the infancy of their creative careers is a gift. And I don’t just mean the money. Sure, money helps, because even programmers and artists need to eat once in a while, but it goes beyond that. It’s what the monetary pledge represents. It’s about believing in something and supporting it, liking it, sharing it, funding it, buying it. It’s about telling someone that you think their work is special.