Gamedev Interview: Clockwork Pile
Previous Indie Corner Episode 31: Ancient Depths
Indie Corner Episode 32: Hunting the Depths
The weather here in lovely Britain is as bonkers as always, huh? We had beautiful sunshine and warm weather all week, and then the rain gods go: ‘That’s enough summer for you, Britain!’. We’ve had a few thunderstorms.
Welcome to a new episode of The Indie Corner, the show where my readers get to listen to a British guy’s indie gaming rambles. I haven’t got much of an intro today — not much has changed in the past week.
Well, I treated myself to an Aya Neo and a new phone. That’s something, I guess! I’ve got two games to share with you all today, so let us begin.
Hunt the Night
A huge thanks to PR Hound and Moonlight Games for providing me with a review key for this one! This game launched recently — a brutal, action-adventure vampire game set in the world of Medhram. While my time in the game as of writing this article is still early, the game’s breathtaking atmosphere and sound design have reeled me in.
No deep sea fishing jokes here, folks. I reviewed Dredge last episode!
The player is introduced to this dark, cruel world as Vesper — a member of the powerful human cult ‘The Stalkers’. The setting is as brutal as the game’s atmosphere, and gore oozes in every orifice of this 16-bit title. In this realm, humans rule the day, while monsters dominate the night. As the tide shifts in favor of these cruel creatures, it is up to the player to guide Vesper on a grueling quest to save humanity.
Hunt the Night pulls no punches. This is a challenging experience. Enemies hit incredibly hard in great numbers, and combat can be overwhelming. You’re going to die a lot, and there isn’t a way around that. Right now, there are no difficulty options to tweak, so what we see is what we get. However, there are frequent saving pillars that fully restore the player’s health, so dying never set me back too much. I’m not one to play games that challenge my sanity — to the point of throwing my controller at the screen — but Hunt the Night feels balanced for now. My opinion on that might change. The game gives players plenty of abilities, new weapons, and power-ups, granting a fighting chance against the world.
I must bring up the visual and sound design again because, for a 16-bit style game, it is stunning. Hunt the Night recommends playing with headphones on, and the result was breathtaking. The last time I was this impressed by an indie game’s visual and sound design was Cloudpunk. Every location oozes with detail, with environmental storytelling on point throughout. It has to be seen to be believed.
I’m enjoying my time with Hunt the Night so far, although there is one thing of note I must bring up — the controls. Moonlight Games strongly recommend the use of a controller. Keyboard support is available, although a controller is by far the superior way to play the game. I was a little surprised that they prioritized the controller over a keyboard, as the latter is still preferred by many gamers. The controls with a keyboard aren’t terrible by any means — the game is still playable, but it will take some getting used to. Unfortunately, there is no way to enable mouse support, which I would have preferred to access the menus. It is a little clunky, although the key bindings can be changed.
The advantage of controller support is the Steam Deck — Valve’s addictive handheld craze. While support is technically classed ‘Unknown’ due to Hunt the Night’s recent launch, the game worked out of the box for me on the Deck. It plays great, with solid battery life to boot. I’m happy.
While I hope Moonlight Games improves keyboard support for the game, Hunt the Night is a solid action-adventure title. The caveat with controls and high difficulty might put some people off, but for anyone who wants a refreshing, challenging experience with incredible sound design, this might be the game for you.
Breathtaking visual design
Steep learning curve — players expect to die often
Stunning music and sound
Keyboard support for PC not as robust as I would like
A vibrant, grimdark world with plenty to discover
Reliable save and healing system
Do you know what we need more of in video games? Underwater exploration!
Subnautica might be terrifying, but it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. Seriously, how it was able to prey on my darkest fears of the unknown was impressive. A horror game, without trying to be a horror game? Damn, awesome stuff. It is been a while since I’ve played Subnautica, but I always remember it. Outer Wilds is the same — an experience I never forget. Those angler fish… shudders
More recently, I have played two great ocean-themed games. One is Intergalactic Fishing — a bizarre yet addictive fishing game that involves the whole universe, and a true hidden gem. The other game was Dredge, a stunning Lovecraftian fishing game that I reviewed in the previous episode, which you can read by clicking on the link here:
subROV meets the Hidden Gem requirement rather well — in all my community circles, I don’t see many people talk about this game. That is a shame because subROV is awesome. It took me longer than I wanted to write up my impressions about this one. Releasing December 2022, subROV is a unique simulation game in Early Access, where the player controls an ROV on many underwater dives. With its immersing control scheme, and emphasis on player choice, I can’t help but feel impressed with this game. How many games allow you to explore deep oceans like this? I can’t think of many. subROV is a passion project.
As anyone can guess, piloting an ROV through the depths of the ocean is a challenging prospect. However, the developer offers players a great set of tutorials to learn the ropes. While you are free to dive into the game literally through one of many locations on the map interface, I highly recommend doing the tutorials first. I tried going in blind, and after twenty minutes of flailing about like a headless chicken, I returned to the tutorial options like a wet dog. So do as I say, not as I do! The tutorials are well-written, and I never felt overwhelmed. However, they are something that requires stern attention — don’t do what I did and distract yourself while playing, it can be easy to forget what’s going on!
The control interface is immersive, and it really feels like we’re on a ship, piloting the ROV from there. You control everything through the keyboard, and I found the default key bindings comfortable to use. With so many different control options, there is a lot to learn but as I said before — the tutorial is great. The interface reminds me of Highfleet, without frustration.
Once the tutorials are complete, the player is left to explore to their heart’s content. Take part in dives, explore the ocean floor, and document everything you can. It is a unique experience, and the controls made me feel like a deepsea explorer. While the mission variety could be improved, there’s still a lot of content to digest, and I’ve run into very few performance problems. The only thing I can offer for potential buyers to look out for with subROV is the steep learning curve, and that it is still Early Access, but this is a great game I recommend if you fancy trying something new.
A deeply immersive ROV simulator
Steep learning curve
Plenty of content for the asking price
Some neat education features about the world’s oceans
Tutorials are fantastic
That is it for today’s episode! I feel like I’m slowly returning to my groove here. There are plenty of cool-looking indie games I can’t wait to showcase in my Indie Corner series. I do not know what the next episode will entail, but you can bet it’ll cover some cool games.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a great week! I shall be back soon.