By Tyler Lubben / March 26th, 2014
I seem to have trouble paying attention when playing my games. Much like the situation with Nyu Media, this month’s Spotlight is another company that had a hand in several games I’ve enjoyed, yet I never knew about them. While you may have seen some of these titles on other systems, Curve Studios is mainly responsible (with a couple of exceptions) for bringing them to Sony platforms. It’s quite a varied library of titles, ranging from platformers, tower defense, puzzle games and even a dash of survival horror. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s get to it.
First off is Curve Studios’ own Stealth Inc, an updated version to their 2011 puzzle-platformer, Stealth Bastard. Players take on the role of a little clone decked out in sneaking equipment, and must navigate him through a huge gauntlet of deadly tests. These involve reaching the end of each stage while staying out of the sight of cameras and avoiding being obliterated by wall turrets, crushers and lasers. Players will run, jump and climb to avoid detection from cameras, and can push boxes around to create shadows, allowing them to pass by unseen. Plus, with a variety of different outfits that give special abilities, and an online leaderboard for posting your best scores, there’s plenty to keep players coming back for more.
When it comes to horror games, I’m what might be described as a “wuss.” With the exception of a small handful of titles, I avoid the genre almost entirely. Heavy gore, jump scares, unspeakable horrors chasing you in the dark? Yeah… no thanks. Yet, when I saw Jasper Byrnes’ Lone Survivor, my love of 2D sprite-based games won out against my aversion to the horror genre. I mean, how bad could it be? As it turns out, pretty bad! Whether a game is using ultra-realistic 3D models or cartoony pixels, the themes of fear of the unknown, limited resources and isolation remain as stressful as ever. Taking on the role of a nameless man living in a dilapidated apartment building, players will search for other survivors while trying to avoid being mutilated by the various horrors that now populate the environment. Keeping your mental health strong is also important, and almost everything players choose to do throughout the story will have some effect on the character’s mental health. This will also greatly impact the ending. It may be difficult for someone like me to get through, but, for those braver than I, you might give Steve’s review a read to learn more.
One of the more unique games I’ve played in some time, Mike Bithell’s platformer, Thomas Was Alone, delivers fun gameplay with a surprisingly engaging story, despite its rather minimalist graphics. Players control a team of colored rectangles with different abilities and pretty varied personalities through 100 levels, while seeing how their relationships evolve as the story continues. At least, that’s what you’re told. In terms of gameplay, the plot is almost nonexistent. It’s through the brilliant narration by Danny Wallace (Sean Hastings from the Assassin’s Creed series) that the story really comes to life. Players will run, jump, bounce and float through some tricky, but not overly challenging stages, and the story helps Thomas Was Alone cross the threshold from simply fun to truly memorable. But don’t take my word for it; check out Jonathan’s review for a more in-depth analysis.
This is the extent of the games from Curve Studios that I personally have played, but there are several others that merit a look, as well. Probably the most well-known of these is a title called Explodemon. Developed and published by Curve, this 2D platformer is pretty much Sony’s answer to ‘Splosion Man on Xbox. Players control the titular hero as he literally explodes onto the scene, using his unique ability to blow himself up, blast enemies away and destroy obstacles. Moving on, we have Titan Invasion. This updated game is a bundle of Puppy Games’ earlier titles; the Space Invaders-esque Titan Attacks (not to be confused with a certain anime) and the real-time strategy/tower defense Revenge of the Titans. As countless giants approach from all directions, players will have to place buildings, collect resources and research upgrades to fight off the invasion.
If straight-up action is more your forte, though, there’s the top-down shooter, Velocity Ultra, from FuturLab. While it may look like a standard shoot ’em up on the surface, it actually has some puzzle elements as well. Players will blow through waves of enemies, as per the norm. However, they will also have to destroy switches in specific orders to free prisoners, and have the ability to set down “Telepods,” which will allow them to warp around the map in ways not normally seen in the shmup genre. Proteus by Ed Key and David Kanaga seems to borrow elements from the popular sandbox game, Minecraft, and puts a much greater emphasis on exploration. Rather than building structures and fighting monsters, players simply experience the world for what it is. There are no giant spiders, no zombies, no green bastards that blow up your buildings that took all night to construct. Instead, players explore a huge, procedurally-generated environment, discovering changes in the music as they travel, and all without the constant threat of serious injury from the indigenous wildlife. If you’re looking for something a little different that you can really get absorbed in, Proteus looks like the way to go. Fluidity: Spin Cycle, also developed by Curve Studios, is the 3DS sequel to their 2010 WiiWare title, Fluidity. Players control a water spirit named Eddy through a variety of stages to save his sisters, the Rainbow Spirits. Rather than using the D-pad or Circle Pad to move around, players physically turn the 3DS, taking advantage of the system’s gyroscope to move Eddy as a puddle, ice cube or steam from one place to another.
Curve Studios also has a couple games on the horizon that certainly show some promise. First of these is Crunching Koalas’ Mousecraft. An interesting looking puzzle game, players guide groups of mice through various courses, placing differently-shaped platforms in their path to help them reach the cheese at the end. It seems as though the mice can’t be controlled directly, and will simply walk forward no matter what, Lemmings-style. Players will need quick thinking to place the correct platforms at the correct times to help the mice avoid the traps that populate each stage, while also creating a path to get them to the end. The game is coming to PS Vita this May. Lastly is The Swapper, a very nice looking 2.5D puzzle-platformer from Facepalm Games. Using a hand-held cloning device, players make duplicates of themselves to solve puzzles and escape an abandoned space station. The game is coming to Sony systems this May, as well.
If you’re looking for indie games on your PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 or Vita, chances are you’re going to come across something with which Curve Studios was involved. It’s not often that you see so many high-quality games in one place, and I can only hope that Curve Studios continues to keep that trend going as they move forward.
Even better, for a limited time, both Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor are available on PlayStation Plus free of charge!
Keep up with Curve Studios on their:
Curve StudiosexplodemonFluidity: Spin CycleLone SurvivormousecraftproteusPublisher Spotlightstealth incThe SwapperThomas Was Alonetitan invasionvelocity ultra