Just over one week ago, Train Jam 2017 came to a close. The 2,500 mile trip from Chicago to San Francisco was bigger than it has ever been before, taking up an entire train this year, with more than 300 game developers from all corners of the globe attending. 79 games were created during the 52 hour event, and these were on display at GDC last week.
You can check out all of the entries from this years Train Jam here, but we wanted to share a few of our favorites with our readers, and explain why we liked them so much. As always, our selection process is entirely subjective, so don’t consider these the five best, just the five that caught our attention the most. It’s well worth your time to browse through the collection and find your own favorites!
Life Arcade is a simple but challenging game where you have to take all the collectibles in each stage, but you have to remember that whatever you do is going to be used against you in the following stages: your movement is recorded and the obstacles are going to move like you did before, so, watch out!
Life Arcade completely took me by surprise. When I first realized what was going on after dying a time or to, I could help but say ” OH! This is so cool!” out loud. The idea of fighting your past selves is a relatively simple idea, but it is pulled of brilliantly in Life Arcade, and combined with the fantastic audio design and music that builds as you progress, I think this jam game has a ton of potential.
by Luke Spierewka, Michael Hoffmann, and Akash Thakkar
Longing for the Drop is a music-based twin-stick shooter, where the intensity of the music defines your score multiplier.
Longing for the Drop is incredibly polished, and handles beautifully. Combining a rhythm game with a twin stick shooter actually works incredibly well. Sure, you can just play it as a normal twin stick shooter, but that’s going to severely impact your score. By waiting and timing your shots with the music, you’ll see your score skyrocket. It’s a fantastic concept.
Zwillinge is a 2 player competitive game about delayed input. Players send signals to receivers to pull them to their side. The player with more receivers pushes their influence farther in a satisfying tug of war. Once one player has conquered 70% of the screen, they win.
First and foremost, Zwillinge is gorgeous. The geometric art style works so spectacularly well, and the clear use of color makes the entire game easy to understand and track.
Mechanically, Zwillinge is intriguing because it requires so much anticipation. It takes a good few seconds between sending out your signal and actually acquiring the receivers to your team. It makes for very strategic feeling tug of war that felt like it had surprisingly depth. I do feel that the 70% marker is maybe a bit to harsh, and would love to see this be able to be adjusted in the game setup. I’d also love to see the idea expanded on with some different shaped environments.
There’s not really that much I can say about uncomfortably except that is is one of the most unique ways to tell a non-linear, multiple viewpoints story I have ever encountered, and is incredibly good at making you feel uncomfortable.
It really is worth playing as blind as possible, as knowing any part of the story will ruin the organic way it unfolds as you play through. Suffice to to say it has nothing to do with the red cliffs that serve as the backdrop. Again, good at making you feel like something is really off.
Seriously, take 10 minutes and play this.
Lacking Depth is a game in which players play a character trapped within a painting. Every few seconds the player will switch from platforming their way out of this painting to playing a top down adventure game and avoiding monsters scattered throughout the painting. Escape the frame to win.
First, why have there not been more game’s set inside paintings? I feel like that idea has fantastic potential, and I am glad to see Lacking Depth tackle it. In Lacking Depth, every so often the perspective of the game changes slighty, turning the game from a platformer to a top down game. This means that you’ll be able to descend quickly through the game, but also that enemies will be able to see you.
Lacking Depth needs quite a bit of polish, but I think that the concept has real potential. Hit boxes felt off to me while playing, and I’d love to a bit more of a visual notification of the change in perspective.
Have you played some of the game’s from TrainJam 2017? Did you make one of them? Let us know about your favorite games from the jam or your experience in the comments below!