11th of March, 2021
Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: shadows, more shadows, and lovely scrolling.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.
I discovered Ombra by mistake. I think I was looking to see if the original Tomb Raiders were on Xbox - no luck - and Ombra came up in the search results.
So glad it did. This is a top-down shooter with a distinctly PomPom aesthetic - chunky characters and lurid laser beams. The twist is that rather than shooting swarming enemies yourself, you use the light you carry and nearby objects to whack baddies with a massive lump of roving shadow. You cast the shadow by moving the light past pillars and what have you.
I love this kind of thing. A few years back twin-sticks were everywhere. And people were still thinking away, working on making them odder, more challenging, more memorable. Ombra, I am so happy to have found you!
Helsing's Fire, iOS
Ombra got me thinking about another great game that involves using shadows.
Back on iOS I downloaded Helsing's Fire again, for what must be the first time in a few years. This is an ingenious puzzle game in which you place potions to destroy any baddies within sight. But what complicates it is the level architecture and the shadows it casts.
Pretty soon you have colour-coded baddies who need to have colour-coded armour burned off before you can do them in. So you place potions in order, aware that if you accidentally hit a blue rat, say, with a red potion, rather than killing them you will grant them red armour.
It's an absolute treat, and weirdly reminiscent of the mark-and-execute system from the later Splinter Cell games. It still works beautifully on current phones - go and check it out!
OneBit Adventure, iOS
OneBit Adventure is a perfect game for getting lost in, forgetting about, re-remembering and then getting lost in again. I've been playing it on and off this way for a while.
It's a top-down pixely roguelike, with all the armour, loot and enemies you might expect. The controls are very simple and the colour-scheme is purples and sepias. There is a hint of old mimeo ink to it, but I think that's me showing my age.
What I love about it is the way it moves. As you progress, the screen scrolls, as if it's a single huge sheet of paper that you're advancing across, like a piano roll - what is it with the ancient references today? I love that sense of moving forward and only forward. It gives a genre game like this a real sense of identity.