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Hands on with Microsoft's latest titles - Part 3: Volgarr the Viking, Spectra, Dangerous Spacetime

The final round up of our visit to the recent Microsoft post E3 event focuses on the smaller games captured under Xbox Ones ID@Xbox, a platform created to help the smaller development teams get their games to a wider audience.

First up was an action platformer steeped in retro goodness, Volgarr the Viking, a game that captures the great moments of 80’s gaming and adds a load of gore to it. Playing similar to classics like Rastan and a difficulty similar to the Ghosts n’ Goblins games this violent platform game has your Viking slashing his way through hordes of monsters, collecting gems and unlocking treasures that boost your powers, adding helmets, shields and fire attacks to your violent repertoire. Armed with a sword the cuts through most that get in your way at times the brutal action needs to be put aside for a little problem solving, usually involving throwing your secondary weapon the spear to create a makeshift platform to access higher arras or avoid spiked traps. With visuals that look like they have been plucked from a SNES game and controls that go with it Volgarr the Viking is looking to be a great and challenging title.

Another game that has some deep retro roots is Spectra, this time the high speed arcade racers of the past, using an eye searing neon colour palette, the aim is to negotiate your little ship through an increasingly hazard laden race track. Using a basic wireframe approach to the visuals gives the game a striking appearance that at times almost becomes an element of the gameplay with you simply drifting your ship from left to right, collecting orbs and dodging obstacles whilst also trying to stay on the narrow track, the bright colours often tricking your eyes, though taking your eyes off the screen or even blinking can often be catastrophic, be it flying off the edge of the track or pinging off the hazards and losing points, delaying your progress to the next level.

For a console that came bundled with an interactive camera there was very little on show to promote this piece of tech, with Fru being the only game at the event with Kinect functions. The concept of Fru is an interesting one with the game essentially a single screen platformer, the aim to get your character to the exit using classic joypad controls combined with body detection on the Kinect. Your body shape is shown on the screen and by moving your “shadow” you can make platforms and other items appear to further your progress. With both single player and co-op modes included this could turn into quite an original puzzle game, if only they can get the Kinect to work properly.

Saving the best till last, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is one of the most original games I have played in a long time, creating one of the best co-op experiences in what is essentially a couple piloting a pink Deathstar through a danger filled outer space. This couch co-op requires two players to run around the inside of their ship, each taking control of essential operations, be it actually piloting the ship, directing the shields or firing from one of the four strategically placed gun turrets. Outside of the ship is a very dangerous place, full of asteroids and plenty of space monsters so careful team work is essential by deciding what each player will do. 

The demo has us floating through space and trying to save space rabbits that are usually well protected by artillery fire and even larger planets with their own gravitational pull. Collecting these rabbits opens a portal to the next level but before jumping through it is best to collect some prizes that are littered around, most of which have a gem to collect which can then be placed into the ships various machines to boost them, be it more firepower on the turrets, a wider shield or even adding an upgrade to your weapons to include a ball and chain, useful to take large swings at multiple targets but swing carefully as over egging it can cause damage to your own ship. 

With unique visuals that remind me of Adventure Time and excellent co-op play this is going to be a huge hit when it arrives and really needs to be pushed more by Microsoft as Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime will be a good reason to finally purchase that second controller.

Edited On 16 Jul, 2014

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