Among hundreds of platformers out there, created by eager indie beginners and not-so-beginners, very few stand out in the crowd. Some of the more notable ones are probably Super Meat Boy, Bloody Trapland, and Default Dan. However, at this year’s PAX East, Green Lava Studios showed off what is surely to be a contender for the prime indie space: Fenix Rage.
The main character, Fenix, certainly has reasons to be angry: his village is completely destroyed, with only a mysterious figure called Oktarus, left. Wanting to find out what happened, Fenix begins to chase Oktarus, who keeps teleporting away. This becomes the structure for all the levels in this difficult platformer, where the goal is to reach a block on which the presumed villain stands, only to have him run off to the next stage. Also, there are these cookies scattered around.
So what differentiates Fenix Rage from other platformers? One of the most notable aspects is that Fenix starts out with all powers available, challenging the player’s skill level from the get go. Other than moving left and right, our little hero can jump infinitely (almost “flapping” in the air). He can also dash left or right as much as he wants, blazing through the stage or effectively dodging obstacles. This is also used to charge through rocks. Later on, developers also mix it up with a fire element, so sliding across a red wall will heat Fenix up, letting him destroy ice blocks easily. A lot of credit goes to the studio for creating smooth, intuitive controls; simple, but with a lot of potential.
Playing the first 15 levels or so only gave me a taste of Green Lava Studios’ creativity, but the game will feature over 200 levels spanning nine different worlds. The enemies are dark, square shapes, frequently mobile and traveling in patterns. The gaps they leave are perfect for quick dashing, but only if the player is able to gauge how much to dash. Some stages have huge swarms of them, and others present a multitude of ways to get around. And no checkpoints if you die, of course! I often felt like there were multiple ways to get to the goal… but then there’s that cookie. There’s a cookie in every level, just waiting to be picked up. It’s an optional treasure (which is a great decision, because they are often creatively protected) which ties in to the unlock and achievement system.
It’s difficult to convey how good it felt to play Fenix Rage. Know also, though, that the art style and gameplay are inspired from things like Hellboy, Sonic, and the 90’s cartoon SWAT Kats. Even if you don’t care about the art style, but fancy platforming – especially the challenging kind – the game will satisfy those competitive urges. The developers are planning on leaderboards, as well as big-screen support for relaxing on the couch. Or for raging on the couch, I should say.
Green Lava Studios is hoping to release the game on consoles as well, but no platform is announced as of now. Fenix Rage is nearing completion, but the developers need around 4-5 months to get the best product they can into gamers’ hands. I don’t know about you, but I’m not even a hardcore-platformer guy, and I want to play this anyway. Fenix Rage just feels right, and it’s going to be a must-try game when it comes out.