IndieHangover was recently at PAX West from September 1st through the 4th. We’ve got a lot of indie games and developers to spotlight over the next week or two, so make sure to stay tuned!
For the past month or so, I had been seeing this trailer for a quirky little Metroidvania called Necrosphere. The trailer boasts a funky soundtrack and really cute pixelated art, while also making it clear that it was a very difficult game where you will die. A lot.
Following in the tradition of previous Metroidvanias such as VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy, timing is critical. The game reminds me of some of the impossible Super Mario Maker levels I’ve watched my friends make, the thought of which makes my hands sweat just thinking about it. But, in a good way.
Cat Nigiri, the Brazil-based studio, travelled to PAX West to showcase Keen––their new sliding puzzle game––at the Indie MEGABOOTH. At the same time, they would be celebrating Necrosphere’s launch at PAX West as well.
While I had originally journeyed to the Cat Nigiri booth to check out Necrosphere, I got a chance to play a little bit of Keen, and found it absolutely captivating. The gameplay is reminiscent of certain puzzles from the Legend of Zelda or Pokémon games, where the player must navigate through a series of rooms, sliding the entire length of the room in any direction unless there is something there to stop them. In order to reach the next door, the player needs to strategically use fixed objects in the room to defeat enemies and reach the next door.
Keen marries entertaining puzzles, tactical combat, and lively visuals with a touch of adventure. While I was there, I managed to get through a few rooms and one boss fight in the demo. The game itself is easy enough to play, but it definitely forced me to think critically, especially in the presence of enemies. My favorite part of the experience was the boss battle. Every time you’d hit him, he’d drop a bomb that you had to avoid while continuing to slide around the room to keep the fight going.
We got a chance to talk to Nando Guimarães, co-founder and CEO of Cat Nigiri on September 1, the opening day of PAX West and the official launch date for Necrosphere.
IndieHangover: “Can you tell me a little bit about your studio?”
Nando: “Sure, we’re Cat Nigiri, we’re a small studio from Brazil. We’re just seven people now. We used to just be two partners, but now we’re seven. We were at five at the beginning of the year, so now we’re growing a lot, it’s really cool.
We’ve been working on Keen, that’s the game we’re showing here at PAX West at the Indie MEGABOOTH. While working on Keen, which has been for about 2.5 years, Caio, my partner, got a little bit frustrated and made a game just by himself, which is Necrosphere. It took about nine months to make, just like a baby [laughs].
We launch Necrosphere today, on Steam. Necrosphere is a mini-metroidvania that you play with only two buttons––extremely difficult––so it’ll have some of VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy, and Metroid, of course. It’ll play a lot with the player’s frustration, the player will die a lot. So whenever the player dies, he or she will be respawned right before the obstacle, so you can try again and again and again and again. You’ll die a lot. And then get angry and smash the controllers, et cetera. That’s the idea.
The best thing with the game is to actually watch people play, because they’ll die a lot and then you’ll try it and see that it’s hard. It launches today on Steam, so we want to see if people like it. And while we’re doing that, I’m here alone, because the team is in Brazil. I’m here in Seattle showcasing Keen as well.”
IH: “How does it feel to be here at PAX West showcasing your games?”
N: “This is my first time at PAX West, I went to PAX East this year. It’s pretty amazing. Here, it’s more of the same, which is pretty good. The reception has been amazing, the people here are really cool, and this is the kind of audience that––I mean, we don’t have that in Brazil––I think the indie market is starting to grow, and this is the audience that we’re trying to market to. It’s pretty good to get that honest feedback and criticisms about the things we’re doing.”
IH: “Awesome! So is there anything else you want to say about the games?”
N: “Please check out Necrosphere, and try out Keen as well. Keen is a sliding puzzle game which mixes a little bit of Threes, which is 2048 plus Zelda, and the art style is kind of Mega Man meets Babymetal, which is pretty cool. So if you want to play a calm game, try our demo for Keen, if you want to get angry, try Necrosphere.”