Arcade shooting and action adventure ahoy as two new PlayStation Network titles aim to engulf you with engaging riffs and encompassing darkness.
Riff: Everyday Shooter
While the games industry has reached a size where the average title requires anything from a few dozen to hundreds of people, Riff: Everyday Shooter is the humble work of a solitary man: Jonathan Mak. The result of this singular vision and craft is a title that is far greater than its apparently innocuous roots.
This quirky shoot 'em up is based on classic arcade gameplay. You assume control of a tiny craft which has to blast its way through eight levels consisting of one screen each and a multitude of baddies coming from all angles. However, each psychedelic and individually themed stage is effectively a guitar driven song, which changes depending on your actions. Shooting certain enemies makes the melody jump, switch, judder and - naturally - riff. Meaning new harmonies are formed by your ability to survive the swarm of foes, which often attack in symphony with the soundtrack.
The dynamics of Riff make it a beautiful and imaginative mesh of gameplay and music, where bonuses such as score multipliers create chain reactions that can wipe out a vast number of opponents and also alter the sound effects of the mesmerising melody that subtly plays in the background. The better you get, the more evolved your overall experience becomes, while its relatively understated visuals turn out to be one of its greatest strengths. The purity of its gameplay symbiotically mixed with sound elevates it beyond many other examples in the genre.
Although the game may seem quite tough and unforgiving, Riff actually becomes easier the more you play it thanks to an ingenious idea: the more tokens and points you amass over a combined time, the more lives you unlock. Persistence yields rewards that help your progress. A range of visual effects and more can also be unveiled with repeated play, varying the already diverse and memorable experience.
Refreshing and imaginative, Riff: Everyday Shooter is one of those special types of game that enchants and entrances anyone lucky enough to pass within its gaze. Despite its modest title, this remarkable shoot 'em up is anything but everyday.
Are you pure enough to restore light to the world? Dark Mist aims to answer that question as you take control of Artemis, Warrior of Light, given the responsibility of fending off the forces of darkness. Thrown into an enemy filled dungeon of increasing complexity, Artemis has to move from room to room and clear the dark mist and the denizens that inhabit it. As you progress the dungeon becomes more labyrinthine, its monsters become more dangerous and the mist increases to a point where careful navigation through its thick cloudiness is essential to avoid ravines and traps.
Luckily for you, Artemis is armed with some powerful attacks to help. Along with her trusty bow and arrows of pure light our heroine has a motion controlled spinning strike to remove any surrounding mist as well as repel foes - a quick shake of the SIXAXIS Wireless Controller is enough to do the job, adding a nice tactile touch. For tougher baddies, Artemis has a range of special projectiles such as bombs and rebounding shots, and should you get into a desperate situation screen-clearing magic can be unleashed, albeit sparingly.
Much like Riff: Everyday Shooter, Dark Mist is deceptively charming. Its beautifully animated watercolour style graphics and lavish effects may give it the appearance of a game aimed towards a young audience, but there's enough challenge for a diverse range of ages to enjoy its maze traversing, baddie blasting fun. A pleasing variety of control options make the best of its fast and responsive action adventure gameplay, while its three online leaderboard modes will keep you playing long after you've conquered the 12 main mazes.
Dark Mist is something a little different from the norm on PlayStation Network - download it and experience why.