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Friday Night Bytes - Web of Death

No, there isn't actually a game called Web of Death. Well, actually, there might be. Somebody Google that. If there is, that isn't what I'm writing about tonight. But I played a couple of web-based games this week that I found interesting enough to write about, and both feature death quite heavily, so here we are.

In the one, which actually IS called Dojo of Death, you will kill many, many enemies. In the other, Titan Souls, you yourself will meet your maker many, many times. One is about empowerment; the other, weakness. In one you charge towards inevitable failure; in the other you fail repeatedly hoping to succeed.

Okay, you get the point. Let's talk about some free games.

Released on Kongregate at the very tail end of last year (and recently covered by RockPaperShotgun, which is where I heard about it), Dojo of Death is a little bit like what you might get if Fruit Ninja were a top-down action game and all the fruits were people. Bad people who want to cut you. Using the mouse to run around the game's single room, every click sends you flying in the direction of the cursor, sword outstretched. Anything in your way is going to die, immediately. While attacking, you are an unstoppable force, and the satisfaction of slicing through an opponent (or a whole row of them) is considerable.

The counter to this, predictably, is that while you are not attacking, you are completely vulnerable, and a single strike will take you down. Archers will fire arrows and enemy swordsmen will charge attacks to fling themselves at you hoping to get in a killing blow. If you manage to strike them first, no harm done. But as time goes on, an endless stream of enemies piles into the arena, making it ever more difficult to keep track of where the attacks are coming from.

That archer's about to have a bad day.

It's a simple game, and there probably isn't enough depth here to claim that it pushes you towards any particular mastery. Hit everything on the screen before it hits you, until part of it manages to hit you. That's it. But it is consistently fun to watch the action ramp up on every round, feeling a little more pleased with yourself every time you split an arrow in half or cut down a row of three ninja at once who were about to slice into you. As the bodies of your enemies carpet the floor, the action becomes harder and harder to follow, and eventually you are overwhelmed. Once you are, a retry is just a click away. Keep this one in your bookmarks; you'll want to come back to it.

This is the best I've done. How long will you last?

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, Titan Souls is a one-and-done affair - a game I can't imagine I'll have any interest in going back to, but one I'm glad I tackled. This one came to me from Giant Bomb's "Worth Playing" videos (thank you, Mr. Klepek). Patrick was a bit stymied by it, but it looked compelling enough to try, and it hooked me until I'd finished it.

Titan Souls was an entry in Ludum Dare 28, themed "You Only Get One." It's an interesting play on that theme, because you don't only get one life in Titan Souls. What you get one of is everything else. Your hero stands alone, with four inert structures laid out North, South, East and West. Four platforms, four titans. Where you start is up to you.

Each direction will eventually lead you to a single titan. Each titan can be destroyed with a single hit, if you manage to target their weak spot to do so. You have a single arrow with which to hit them - once fired, it must be picked up (or summoned back to you, a slow process that leaves you vulnerable while you do it). A single hit is all it takes to kill you, sending you back to the stone garden where you began. You Only Get One.

I'll save you some time. North isn't unlocked yet. Don't go North.

A little bit Dark Souls, a little bit Shadow of the Colossus, Titan Souls is a game of iteration. The first time you meet a titan you will probably die, and quickly. The second time you will learn something about its pattern. By the third or fourth time, you'll be ready to make attempts on its life. Eventually, you will bring it down and move on to the next.

Progress is checkpointed after each titan falls, and none of them are far away (though one is stuck behind an annoying miniature maze), so repeat encounters are quick to engage in and frustration is at least somewhat minimized. The game is shorter than I expected - even with the iteration built in, it's maybe a half hour affair - but the process of figuring out each titan's weakness and exploiting it was a rewarding one. The ending will either give you a chuckle or aggravate you, I can't really predict which. I was in the former group, though. Go find out which you are.

Mr. Brain-in-a-Jar here killed me a LOT.

So there you go - two free webgames for your Friday evening, one to experience and walk away from, one to keep coming back to. I hope either or both will be to your liking. Me, I'm headed back to the Dojo of Death to see if I can beat my high score. Those evil ninja aren't gonna cut themselves.

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Reader Comments (1)

old games memories

August 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercyri

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