Six of the most promising student games at this year’s Dare Proto Play
SUNDOWN MILD BEAST GAMES
Like last year’s high-contrast arena sneaker Chambara, Sundown’s gameplay is built around obscured vision. But rather than blend into the background, the four players in this top-down shooter are covered by darkness, revealed only when firing or near a light source. If you lose track of yourself you can hold down a button to reveal your position, but that will also alert your opponents.
ECTO PLAZA YEAH YEAH GAMES
Competitive fourplayer brawler Ectoplaza is based on a chargeable fling move that catapults you around the level. The goal is to collect ectoplasm, stealing it from others by knocking it out of them and then gathering up as much as possible. There’s no double jump, your second press initiating a ground slam, which takes getting used to, but do so and the result’s riotous.
STEAL EVERYTHING GREEN BEAN CONSPIRACY
Steal Everything is an asymmetric fiveplayer tussle in which a team of four must attempt to lift as many valuables as possible from a museum while a fifth attempts to stop them using security cameras, drones and traps. While the thieves are working together, there needn’t be any honour among them; it’s possible to steal from each other, setting in motion attention-sapping scuffles.
PATHOS PATHOS STUDIOS
Pathos is a beautiful isometric puzzle adventure that was inspired by foster care. Designed for tablets and mobile devices, it puts you in control of a young boy exploring an eerie fantasy world and solving simple environmental puzzles along the way. There’s also a mirrored version of the world (accessed by inverting your device) that lets you move through otherwise off-limits areas.
A DANCE OF FIRE AND ICE 7TH BEAT GAMES
It’s a rare game that offers a fresh spin on rhythm-action, but 7th Beat’s drumming game is one of them. Two dots orbit each other, moving along a pathway made of blocks. A straight line results in a steady beat, but new orientations shake up the rhythm. A right-angled turn, for instance, requires a button press on the half-beat, and failure dumps you back at the start.
IMPULSE REVOLUTION MANDLE BAR GAMES
This generous suite of competitive minigames is moreish, and will be out by the time you read this. Inspired by the movements of air hockey pucks, players boost their avatar around race tracks, in virtual sumo rings, and through weapon-filled arenas. The number of twists on the central mechanic is surprising, each one making putting the controller down more difficult.