Super Stardust HD was an early favorite PlayStation Network game of ours. Its developer, Housemarque, has been busy prepping the zombie blaster Dead Nation for PSN. But that's not all it's working on -- it's also developing Outland with Ubisoft for both PSN and Xbox Live Arcade. An action platformer with the polarity mechanics of Ikaruga, Outland will be unveiled this weekend at PAX. But I have the early word on it for you right now, because you're special.
Outland can best be described as a cross between retro platformers like Prince of Persia or Out of This World and the color-switching of shoot 'em up Ikaruga. You control an acrobatic fellow as he explores a lush, dense jungle. It's a 2D game but there is a great sense of depth in the background with swaying branches and colorful wildlife. The animation for all the characters is really terrific.
Our hero can switch between light and dark forms, an ability he'll need to exploit in order to murder the local monsters and avoid sprays of bullets. Just like in Ikaruga, he'll take damage from opposite-colored bullets but will be impervious to those of the same polarity. So if there is a platform you want to get to but it's being blocked by a stream of white bullets, just change to white and you can pass through unharmed. There are instances where you must rapidly switch back and forth to move through multi-colored sprays of bullets, much like Ikaruga.
When it comes to battling enemies, you can only harm those of the opposite color. So you'll need to be white in order to defeat a black spider. You'll begin with an energy sword but eventually learn other abilities like a slide attack and an uppercut.
Certain objects in the environment will respond to your polarity, too. Elevators will go up when you are dark and down when you are light. A hovering platform may only hold your weight when you are a certain color.
Levels are large, sprawling areas with branching paths and secrets like extra health hearts to find. Each area is guarded by a boss and we got to see an early behemoth called Golem that stood the entire height of the screen. Golem is "dark," so you can only inflict damage when you are light. He carries a giant club and will periodically pound the ground, sending a wave of energy towards you. His club will become stuck, though, allowing you to hop up to his head and whack him a few times. When you've dealt enough damage he'll start causing light and dark comets to rain down upon you, which you'll have to dodge.
The story will be revealed to the player as they proceed through the jungle. All you know at the beginning is the protagonist has been having visions of some sort of battle taking place here. He is drawn to the jungle with the feeling that he is the only one who can resolve the conflict.
Outland won't be ready until next year but it's already looking great. I haven't gotten to play it, yet, but the idea of throwing a little Ikaruga into Out of This World definitely has me intrigued.
Outland - Housemarque's New PSN Action Platformer - June 14 - $9.99
Posted 02 September 2010 - 06:30 PM
Posted 03 September 2010 - 07:16 AM
Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:03 PM
This is the first thing I've seen on Outland in a long time. There's info on just how the game works, the story, the co-op modes, and its late April/early May release window.
Last fall, I got a first look at Outland, a side-scrolling action game that casts you as an urban sophisticate-turned-spiritual warrior. The dreamlike visuals, fluid platform mechanics, and sharp sword-based combat pointed to a fascinating PSN game. Since then, developer Housemarque (creators of PSN classics Dead Nation and Super Stardust HD has been busy fleshing out the game with details that will make fans of the classic 2D side-scroller Castlevania: Symphony of the Night beam with delight.
A gorgeously illustrated introductory cinematic introduces you to the protagonist, a nameless, faceless modern-day urban dweller haunted by visions of a vast wheel, endlessly turning. Maddened by the visions and unable to find relief, the protagonist seeks out a mystic shaman who guides him on a path of spiritual awakening and alerts him to a timeless, cyclical battle with a pair of god-like Sisters who created the world and now seek to destroy it. Guess what? The fate of the world is now in your hands. Lucky you!
“The Sisters are the final bosses in the game,” explained Producer Adam Sarasohn. “They are the ones causing this conflict.” You’ll learn this firsthand in the opening moments of the game when you dive into a playable vision set 30,000 years in the past. Re-living the conflict as an ancient hero — your spiritual predecessor — this short flashback scene gives you a taste of the most powerful abilities and weapons in the game and sets up the final struggle against the Sisters, though it cuts short just as the ominous battle begins.
Overall, Outland’s single-player experience will be familiar to fans of action-platform games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You start out with a limited skill set and gradually gain abilities and more powerful swords as you conquer enemies, uncover ancient artifacts and traverse previously inaccessible locations. But in addition to the sword-swinging combat, Outland’s gameplay features a twist. A quick tap of the L2 trigger shifts you between blue and red (light and dark) energy alignments. If you shift to the blue form, you’ll harmlessly absorb blue projectiles but remain vulnerable to red projectiles, and vice-versa. Outland’s most challenging moments tend to pack the screen with a dizzying number of red-and-blue projectile patterns, forcing you to rapidly shift alignments to survive. This is easier said than done, as many platforms are color-coded as well and require tricky timing to land.
We also learned new details about Outland’s massive boss battles, particularly one encounter against the High Priestess. Armed with telekinetic abilities, the High Priestess attacks by hurling pieces of the surrounding environment at you. “After a while,” Sarasohn teased, “the entire room breaks apart and starts falling, and you’re jumping up pieces of rubble while you continue to fight her in mid-air.” Then there’s the final boss fight again the Sisters, hinted at in the beginning of the game, which will be “particularly challenging” according to Sarasohn.
In addition to the single-player campaign, Outland includes an Arcade mode that will challenge expert players to speed-run through scenarios with the highest score possible. But at PAX East, Sarasohn also revealed that Outland includes robust two-player co-op play in two distinct flavors: Story Co-op and Co-op Challenge rooms. When playing the Story mode with a co-op partner, you’ll occasionally uncover portals that unlock Co-Op Challenges. These challenges aren’t for the faint of heart. “In the Co-op Challenge rooms, we mess with the existing gameplay rules of Outland,” Sarasohn revealed. “In normal co-op Story play, it doesn’t matter what your partner does — either player can switch between light and dark alignment as needed.” That rule is turned on its head in one Co-op Challenge in which one player controls alignment switching of both players — a tall order when the air is thick with red-and-blue projectiles and you’re forced to watch your partner’s back. Then, in a sadistic twist halfway through this particular Co-op Challenge, the other player assumes control of alignment swapping. Like I said: it’s not for the faint of heart!
Though Outland’s co-op modes are limited to online play, Sarasohn says it’s for a good reason. “The reason we did online-only is because we wanted each player to have a full screen so they can see all the puzzles and not have to make blind jumps.” Sarasohn explained that Housemarque experimented with a couch co-op mode that constrained both players to one screen, but that players found it frustrating because their movements were limited by the edges of the screen.
With its late-April/early-May PSN release date fast approaching, Outland is shaping up to be a major departure for developer Housemarque. What do you think about their new gameplay style? Let us know in the comments!
Posted 18 March 2011 - 01:24 AM
Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:18 PM
Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:50 PM
Just wanted to say, great little game Housemarque worked up. A platformer that takes a great deal of inspiration from bullet hell shooters, specifically "Ikaruga" and puts it into an exploration based platformer (similar to, but more linear than, Super Metroid)
Gameplay in a nutshell: Bullets and enemies come in red and blue, so do you. By swapping colors you can become immune to bullets of your color and gain the ability to hurt enemies of the opposite.
As you progress you are given mobility and combat upgrades, often required to gain access to the next area.
The game features 5 areas and clocks in at around 4-5 hours total. It features campaign co-op as well as an Arcade mode meant for compulsory speed-running (you're given a small winddow of time in which to get from the start of a chapter all the way to the death of the boss. Requiring rapid precision color swaps as well as an intimate understanding of how everything patterns and the best time-saving path from A to B to C to D.
A good example of the Light/Dark gameplay mechanic can be seen around 1:45 in the video.
Optionally, If you don't happen to like narrated videos. May I recommend muting the above vid and playing the following Jan Hammer track in the background:
Edited by EncryptedPrints, 08 July 2011 - 11:05 PM.
Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:15 AM
Anyway there's enough storage space for a couple threads about an awesome pseudo-indie-esque platformer, right? =)
Posted 10 July 2011 - 01:04 AM
Although, I love Super Stardust HD and Dead Nation so I'll definitely give it a try and see if Housemarque can take this light/dark idea further and make it funner and maybe more innovative.
Posted 11 July 2011 - 01:25 AM
Posted 13 July 2011 - 03:37 PM
I have to say Ikaruga is one of my favorite games and it's a little off putting having someone else take the light/dark idea and implementing it in their own game almost exactly like Ikaruga.
its inevitable that a good idea from 1 game is going to show up in other games. so long as its well done (which i think outland is), who really cares? if the 1st game ever to do something was the only one allowed to use that idea, the game industry would be stale as .