Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rise of the Ravager (XBLIG)

End of days prophecies, and theories are a dime a dozen these days. You'll find that mankind's history is filled with all sorts of interesting ideas relating to the ultimate demise of the world's population. Things like the wrath of God/gods, death by Mother Nature, Alien invasions, and even the ever popular zombie apocalypse are among the civilization's smiting occurrences that are described through man's many age old teachings. It seems that XBLIG developer Gentleman Squid Studios has also decided to join these majority of theorists, and prophets in order to give their own take on a well known mythological tale of global destruction. Their game Rise of the Ravager uses the Mayan end of days mythology as it's cornerstone reference, and twists it a bit to make a unique interpretation of the devastating events of doomsday. Through shmup style gameplay, and interesting story panel art this high quality developer breathes vivid life into the possible fall of man.

Rise of the Ravager follows the brief but epic prophecy of a Mayan deity called the "Ravager" that was created in order to bring about the end of life as we know it. This neutral god/being lies dormant awaiting it's inevitable summoning. It is up to you to dispatch the other incoming Mayan deities in order to keep this event from happening. Should you miss any incoming targets though the Ravager will do what it was meant to do, and rid the world of your puny existence. Through vivid story panels, and audio narration the developer of this mythology based shooter brings you (the gamer) knee deep into this tale while adding an intense atmosphere to the gameplay that is to follow.

Through an email delivered to me by the team at Gentleman Squid Studios I have learned that they compare the game to a "Missile Command", and "Ikaruga" style of shoot'em up. This, in Layman's terms means that you will be firing shots from a stationary turret while switching shot colors in order to take out color specific enemies. I like to think of it in terms of the first "Space Invaders" game only with color coded target, and shot mechanics. Aiding you in the task of cheating death is a movable target reticule (Left Thumbstick), and color specific power-ups that can be collected from fallen foes. At the beginning of the game you will be able to choose the target cursor's sensitivity as well as the type of button layout you wish to use. The button layouts include the usual (X, Y, A & B) buttons, and the top four shoulder buttons (RB, LB, RT, LT). Each button is assigned a specific color no matter which layout you choose to go with, and in turn will only fire that color shot. You must shoot the falling, and flying Mayan death masks with the appropriate color as well as the power-ups that appear after they have been defeated.

Aside from the standard shmup gameplay you'll also find that the developer has included some RPG-like elements to the game. After you successfully complete a wave of enemies you will be awarded skill points with which you can upgrade different stats associated with the way the game is played. Things like shield regeneration, and aim assistance can be upgraded assuming you have enough points to do so. As you can probably imagine there is a way to bring about the "Rise of the Ravager" in this game. By allowing three Mayan death masks/enemies to pass by your temple turret you will end your game with an animation cutscene featuring the Ravager itself. This behemoth of a deity will arise from the earth only to snuff out your life, and those of your fellow men/women with you. In other words it's "Game Over" for you bub!

When it comes to graphics, sound, and overall quality "Rise of the ravager" has a lot to offer the gamer. The game itself beams with the high quality presentation that developers such as PopCap Games are able to deliver. For an XBLIG title Gentleman Squid Studios has really stretched the limits of what an indie can do. The initial art panel storyboard looks to be of next-gen quality as does the details of the enemies, backgrounds, and other features that you'll find during your playthrough. One thing that I really found interesting was the professionally narrated tutorial that plays out before you actually get into the core gameplay. It's a much better narration than what you'll usually find in an XBLIG title. Overall the game is a brilliantly beautiful, and challenging experience that is very much worth the asking price. If you are looking for a new shmup that's out of the ordinary then this will definitely be something worth getting into.

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