Category: GamingOnLinux Latest Articles

Sky Racket is a brilliant and colourful mix of a shoot ’em up and a block breaker, out now:

Tags: Steam, Humble Store, New Release, Action, Shoot ‘em up, Review, Unity

Sky Racket combines two styles of gameplay in such a fantastic way, with beautiful bright colours and feel like a classic Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) game. It’s out today and it’s a huge amount of fun. Note: Key provided by the developer.

They’re calling it a Shmup Breaker, since it combines the side-scrolling action found in tons of classic shoot ’em ups with block breaking not too far from Breakout. It’s so incredibly weird to see the two different styles put together like this, but it really does work. The colourful and cheery presentation is incredibly inviting too, couldn’t help but smile at the cheesy retro-cartoon intro video.

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One of the key features of Sky Racket is how you don’t have a weapon, only a tool. You have a magical laser Racket, which is basically a Tennis Racket that appears out of a handle a bit like a Lightsaber. Enemies shoot at you, so you serve it back to them with increased speed and power. You get to meet some little friends along the way, like a flying elephant head that can shoot every so often (which seemed optional, it gave me the choice of having them join me).

What’s really caught me with Sky Racket is how damn satisfying it is to get a good rebound on enemy fire, to have it bounce furiously around the screen smashing blocks everywhere as it goes. It looks glorious! Sky Racket also adds in a little sprinkle of Bullet Hell too, especially with the boss battles. The first one, for example, has you face off against a giant angry Banana:

This is a fantastic example of how to do a retro-inspired game in modern times. Mix up the features, add a bunch of surprises with some on-point humour which hits that line just before weird becomes insane. The kind of strange where long, flying cat sandwiches open up to reveal a little turret inside.

Just look at this, at one point a bunch of furry little critters jumped on me and I had to wiggle them off. That’s after a section where I was constantly dodging a barrage of critters falling from the sky, all wanting to hop on. I don’t have even the slightest clue what’s going on but it’s stupidly charming.

I will add, those same furry critters actually turn into grenades when you shake them off, for you to serve up a good shot right through a group of enemies in front of you. The earlier section where they’re constantly dropping from the sky now makes a bit more sense. Luckily I got to re-try it after my utter failure at the hands of an extremely angry two-sided monkey thing, who fires big laser things out of their mouth which drops down spikes from above.

Look, nothing I say about this game is going to begin making sense, you just have to play it.

Feature Highlight:

  • Dodge and dive through fanciful shmup levels! Blast bullets back to break blocks and bust bad guys!
  • Gorgeous pixel art and fluid animation so good it’s BANANAS, literally and figuratively.
  • Co-op multiplayer to share this funky fun with friends!
  • Befriend the best little buddies to aid you in a colorful and whimsical universe!
  • Catchy original soundtrack sure to please 16-bit fans!
  • Bizarre boss battles! No really, they’re very strange…
  • Bullet hell challenges to thrill and test your will!
  • Master the mechanics of rebounding attacks and find creative ways to use your enemies’ weapons against them!

Since writing about the demo back in July, gamepad support on Linux seems to have improved with the button prompts properly showing up on the Steam Controller so it’s been quite a smooth experience.

You can find Sky Racket on Humble Store and Steam. Absolute recommendation, pure joy.

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Space grand strategy game AI War 2 has now officially launched:

Tags: RTS, Strategy, New Release, Humble Store, Steam, GOG

Arcen Games have released a new deadly AI into space with the grand strategy game AI War 2 now available as it has left Early Access. This comes ten years to the date since the original launched as well.

This is the 11th title from Arcen Games to support Linux after AI War: Fleet Command, Tidalis, A Valley Without Wind, A Valley Without Wind 2, Shattered Haven, Skyward Collapse, Bionic Dues, The Last Federation, Starward Rogue, In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor and now AI War 2. You’ve got to hand it to Arcen, they treat Linux well as a platform for gamers.

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Feature Highlight:

  • Many optional factions, each with their own goals and strategies, create a living galaxy.
  • A new Fleets system gives you even more ships than before, and allows you to customize your empire more than ever.
  • A ton of map types, and with a lot of sub-options to make them even more varied.
  • Outguard to hire, factions to ally with, and oodles of targets to capture or hack – with the AI or aliens.
  • Warden, Hunter, and Praetorian Guard sub-fleets of the AI provide for new challenges (and sometimes opportunities) in how both you and the AI interact with each other.
  • Crazy moddability, with many levers available in easily-accessible XML.

As for what’s new compared to the original, naturally quite a lot. Over an hour of extra music, more approachable gameplay yet still deep, a lot more to do, reptitive boring tasks removed, a cleaner redesigned interface, multi-threading for better performance taking more advantage of modern systems, 1,900 lines of spoken dialogue from more than 25 actors and tons more.

Some of the scenes are quite fantastic too, just look at how gorgeous this system is:

Included recently are a bunch of newer tutorials and they’re a huge help. AI War II, like the previous game, is still huge and in many ways complicated. A lot of what happens is a learning on the job type of deal. At least now though, the initial barrier to enjoyment is a lot lower.

The Linux version supports both OpenGL and Vulkan, with the latter being experimental and it didn’t actually show any ship graphics for me only icons. So for now at least, keep it to OpenGL for the best experience.

You can pick up AI War 2 on Humble Store and Steam along with it newly arriving on GOG today as well.

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Chilly survival game The Long Dark has released Episode 3, Survival Mode update due December:

Tags: Steam, Humble Store, Indie Game, Survival, Adventure

Today, you can venture back into the frozen wastes of The Long Dark, as Episode Three CROSSROADS ELEGY is now out. You can skip right ahead to it too.

With the first two episodes following Mackenzie, this new episode instead follows Astrid after she and Mackenzie get separated in Milton at the opening of Episode One. Due to that, Hinterland Studio said they’ve just unlocked the first three episodes for anyone to jump in where the want. They said there “may be some minor spoilers for the earlier episodes, but in general we think this flow can work” and while they still recommend playing from the first episode you now have a choice.

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Additionally, Hinterland said their Halloween event Four Days of Night will be returning on around 5AM UTC on October 28th (10PM Pacific Time on the 27th). During this event the sun will not rise, light sources last longer, there’s “Demon” wolves roaming around plus Halloween themed snacks and items to find. Nothing new this year, due to their focus being on the main game.

On top of all that Hinterland also said they’re on track for another update to the Survival Mode during December. No notes yet on exactly what that will have, we expected them to give details on it next month.

You can find The Long Dark on Humble Store and Steam.

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The Children’s Commissioner in England has called on the government to class loot boxes as gambling:

Tags: Misc

Here could be the start of another nail in the coffin for loot boxes, as the Children’s Commissioner in England has put out a new report after a little study was done.

Never heard of the Children’s Commissioner? It’s a public independent body in England that is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children (read more here). The current head is Anne Longfield, who today released a pretty damning report on the state of how certain games and companies really attempt to suck money out of money at every opportunity.

I won’t quote all of it to spare you some of the things we all already know but it’s good to see such a thing being done over here. It’s needed, it has been for a long time now. This particular study had them speak to children between 10 to 16 about their gaming habits, what they liked and disliked and so on. Games included that were talked about include Fortnite, Call of Duty, FIFA, Roblox and more which do have some pretty aggressive advertising of the in-game items and subscriptions.

Not all of it is terrible in the report though, thankfully Longfield does carefully mention how playing games can help people to socialise, learn new skills and have fun.

The result of the study is where it gets interesting. The Commissioner has called for multiple things to be changed, a few of which I will summarise below:

  • A place to track historic spending in games
  • A maximum daily spending limit in the games as well
  • Calls on the UK government to adjust the Gambling Act to regulate loot boxes as gambling
  • Calls on the UK government to have a wider review into the definition of gambling in the Gambling Act, due to all the new forms of monetization appearing in games
  • Games distributed online should get a legally enforceable age-rating system like physical games
  • A requirements for an additional warning for games which game in-game transactions

This bit especially caught my attention:

The amount of money spent, and the lack of a guaranteed reward meant children often feel like their money is wasted. In some cases, they lose control of their spending and attempt to ‘chase losses’ by spending more.

That sure as hell sounds like gambling to me…

You can find the full report here.

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Dead End Job, a twin-stick ghost-sucking shooter releases December 13:

Tags: Steam, Upcoming, Twin-stick shooter, Action

Ant Workshop and publisher Headup have announced the madcap mash-up of Ren & Stimpy meets Ghostbusters, Dead End Job, is releasing on December 13. If you love 90’s cartoons (who doesn’t?) and ghost hunting adventures then you’re probably going to enjoy Dead End Job.

Interestingly, Ant Workshop was founded by Tony Gowland, who previously worked for Rockstar Games and their first game as an indie was Binaries released back in 2016 with Linux support arriving a little later. On top of that, they’re getting the music in the game produced by the award winning Wil Morton of Solid Audioworks, who also worked for Rockstar Games.

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Speaking to the publisher today just to reconfirm Linux support, the answer was a super clear “Yes.  :)”.

Feature Highlight:

  • Clean restaurants, offices and other buildings of ghosts using a plasma blaster, your trusty vacuum pack and a whole range of supernatural items.
  • Save your mentor’s soul before the next full moon, or she’ll spend eternity as a spook (voted “Least Preferred Fate” in Ghost Hunter Monthly).
  • Drop in/drop out couch co-op, as your mentor appears to lend a hand!
  • Stunning cartoon-quality high resolution artwork inspired by favourites like Ren & Stimpy.
  • Featuring original music by the award-winning Will Morton (Grand Theft Auto series).
  • Twitch and Mixer integration allows viewers to help or hinder the streamer by choosing their powerups.

If interested, you can wishlist/follow Dead End Job on Steam.

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Devespresso Games join with Headup for Western release of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters:

Tags: Upcoming, Steam, Action, Adventure, Horror

The Korean survival horror-adventure The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters from Devespresso Games is now getting a helping hand from publisher Headup for Western audiences.

Also confirmed through the press emails is that The Coma 2 will be entering Steam Early Access on November 5th, with a full release expected in “Q1 2020”.

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Feature Highlight:

  • Fear Dark Song’s relentless pursuit to kill you, now with an all-new AI.
  • Craft items to prepare for critical life-or-death situations or risk permanent injury.
  • Explore the nightmarish district of Sehwa and discover its dark secrets.
  • Scavenge resources to survive deadly encounters and afflictions.
  • Unlock tools and upgrades to reach previously inaccessible areas.
  • Hide to avoid detection and certain death. Pass challenges to conceal your location.
  • Featuring vibrant, hand-illustrated in-game visuals and comic strips.

When speaking personally to Headup, they confirmed “a Linux version is planned indeed” although it’s not 100% clear just yet if that’s for Early Access or the full release. Will let you know when we have a concrete date for the Linux version.

You can wishlist/follow The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters on Steam.

Devespresso Games previously released both The Coma: Recut and Vambrace: Cold Soul with Linux support. Headup are a pretty Linux-friendly publisher too, one we’ve talked to many times. They helped out multiple other titles come to Linux including Slime-san, Bridge Constructor Portal, The Inner World – The Last Wind Monk and plenty more to come.

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Kowai Sugoi Studios close up so they’ve made their point & click horror ‘Shiver’ free:

Tags: Indie Game, Free Game, Steam, Point & Click, Horror

Times are tough for indies, with Kowai Sugoi Studios announcing they’re closing up shop and so they’ve set their point and click horror title Shiver free for everyone.

Kowai Sugoi Studios said in a blog post on the official site that this month they’re shutting down, no reason for it was given but they gave their “sincere appreciation to our friends, family, and fans” for supporting them along the way. Shiver seems to be their only game, released originally back in 2017. You can see the original trailer below:

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More about it:

Shiver is a beautiful and chilling point-and-click horror adventure from Kowai Sugoi Studios. As you explore the recently closed Windy Oaks National Park, you must rely on your wits and bravery to conquer challenges and search for rescue. Spanning the course of one captivating hour, you will attempt to unravel the mysteries of the park and escape with your body intact.

Feature highlight:

  • Atmospheric point-and-click puzzle-horror game
  • Art constructed through a combination of painting and photography
  • Spine-tingling experience, lasting 30 minutes to an hour
  • Spiritual successor to popular indie game Cozy

Find it free now on Steam.

Hat tip to Eike.

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Humble Store is doing a Female Protagonist Sale, plus the upcoming Steam sale dates leaked:

Tags: Game Sale, Humble Store, Steam

The week has only just begun and there’s plenty of sales going on, with even more coming up. Let’s have a little look. First up, Humble Store is doing a Female Protagonist Sale celebrating various heroines across multiple genres.

Here’s some of the highlights of what you can find for Linux:

See the whole sale here.

As for Steam, the upcoming sale dates have been leaked once again:

  • Halloween Sale: October 28 – November 1
  • Autumn Sale: November 26 – December 3
  • Winter Sale: December 19 – January 2
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Another OpenRA preview build is up needing testing, Tiberian Sun support is coming along:

Tags: Open Source, Game Engine, Strategy, RTS

Work continues on the open source game engine OpenRA which allows you to play Command & Conquer, Red Alert and Dune 2000 on Linux and other modern platforms with support for Tiberian Sun progressing well.

Following on from the last test release which added in saved game support another was put up yesterday. Here’s whats changed in the latest test build:

  • Fixes for several issues with game loading/saving
  • Fixes for several crashes and a desync issue
  • Fixes for several glitches related to unit movement
  • Fixes for several mission related issues in Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn
  • Fixes for several compatibility issues with Linux and FreeBSD
  • Refinements to the new spectator UI
  • Further Red Alert balance adjustments

With the Linux fixes, it’s probably a good idea for some of our readers to jump in and give it a re-test so we can ensure another polished release.

As for the Tiberian Sun support they’ve been working on for a long time, it sounds like it’s coming along well. They’ve been pretty quiet on it but they’ve by no means forgotten about it. The team said that multiple past releases have overhauled parts of the code specifically for it and that continues even now.

One issue they’ve been dealing with is deployable units in Tiberian Sun, while OpenRA had basic support for the feature due to the Construction Yards in classic C&C it wasn’t suitable for Tiberian Sun. Now though? They’ve overhauled it and expanded it. You can now queue up deploy commands between other orders, deployable units can be ordered to pack up and then move somewhere else as a single action too. 

Additionally, the code for aircraft and helicopter movement has also been given an overhaul to add in many of the extra features and dynamics needed for Banshees, Orcas, and Carryalls. The transport behaviour for the Carryall was also updated, with unit pick-up behaviour closer to the original game and allowing you to queue up multiple transport runs.

No release date yet for when the Tiberian Sun mod for OpenRA will release but the next stable OpenRA build should be soon. See the full news post here.

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Steam ‘Remote Play Together’ is now in Beta, allowing local multiplayer games over the net:

Tags: Steam, Update, Beta, Valve

Today, Valve have released an exciting update to the Steam Beta Client which adds in Remote Play Together, allowing you to play local co-op, local multiplayer and shared/split screen games over the net with your friends.

From what Valve said, it will allow up to four players “or even more in ideal conditions”, meaning if you all have reasonable internet connections you might be able to play with quite a few people.

Something that has of course been done elsewhere, although the advantage here is no extra payments or software needed as it runs right from the Steam client. It’s very simply done too. Just like you would invite friends to join your online game, you invite them to Remote Play Together from the Steam Friends list and if they accept…away you go. Only the host needs to own the game too, making it easy to get going.

Feature Highlight:

  • Play local multiplayer games with Steam Friends online
  • Stream video, audio, input, and voice between players
  • Use your own controllers, or share control of the keyboard & mouse
  • Play together across Windows, Mac, and Linux

You can see the full announcement on Steam here.

To access it, you need to be in the Steam Client Beta. To do so is simple: click Steam up the top left, go to Settings and then hit the Change button which will bring up the box on the right below:

After that, Steam will need to restart and you will have access.

Giving it a test run earlier with contributor Samsai, we fired up CRYPTARK, Wizard of Legend and Enter the Gungeon and sadly none of them seemed to work at all. They all have the Remote Play Together tag on Steam to show they should work but neither of us could connect to each other as the host. I put up a bug report here.

This is what a Beta test is for of course to iron out all the issues, hopefully it will start working sometime soon as it sounds like a good feature. It could even be Steam servers being overloaded or not entirely fully up for such a brand new feature. Will let you know when we get it working.

Perhaps if Valve keep doing interesting features like this, more developers might consider the 30% cut Valve take as worth it? Valve seem to be taking Steam in quite an interesting direction with Steam Play, Remote Play, Remote Play Together and lots of other smaller features.

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