Revolution 60
Hands-On Preview
"Led by three ambitious and creative women, Giant Spacekat offers a welcome shot of napalm-laced estrogen in a male-dominated industry."

Revolution 60 is the upcoming iOS debut title from Boston, MA-based independent studio Giant Spacekat. Led by three ambitious and creative women, Giant Spacekat offers a welcome shot of napalm-laced estrogen in a male-dominated industry. Giant Spacekat bills their debut title as "Heavy Rain meets Mass Effect," and after playing a preview demo, I cannot think of a more apt description.

The game takes place in a brightly colored, high-tech future that takes inspiration from space-age cities in games such as Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but filters that inspiration through a more cartoony lens. Players follow a group of women comprising a splinter cell of the counterterrorism group Chessboard as they battle a crime syndicate whose soldiers resemble tiger-striped Stormtroopers. Commander Minuete, who appears to have insect-inspired cybernetic enhancements, is very matter-of-fact and prioritizes the success of a mission above all else. Bespectacled Amelia, an engineer who seems to be new to the group, is a humanitarian who often butts heads with Minuete. Val is a soldier with fiery red hair who takes a grenade in battle and whose nanomachine-infused blood may not be able to repair her body in time; and not without severe repercussions to her mind. Caught in the middle of it all is an assassin named Holiday, who, for all intents and purposes, is the player's main avatar. The dialogue choices players make for Holiday are what will ultimately lead her down the proverbial "paragon," "renegade," or "neutral" paths. Many decisions also lead to stronger alliances with either Minuete or Amelia. The game's official website states that a single playthrough should take about 2-3 hours, but there is immense replay value in the game's branching pathways and multiple endings. Giant Spacekat is planning Revolution 60 to be a trilogy, so I look forward to seeing how the players' chosen ending and interpretation of Holiday play into the sequels.

The game plays a lot like the classic Dragon's Lair arcade game; players watch cinematic scenes unfold before being prompted to engage in QTE (Quick Time Events) consisting of various taps and slides to move the action along. Some of these are timed, and the quicker your reflexes, the better your ending will be. Successful QTEs during action scenes feel like pulling off cagey maneuvers and subtle QTEs for more delicate actions encourage that feeling of "be quiet and give me some space so I can work!"

In addition to QTEs and dialogue trees progressing the story, there is also a fair bit of combat that melds the best aspects of turn-based and realtime battle engines. Combat is viewed from a three-quarter view perspective and has both player and enemy grids, similar to those of Radiant Historia. Players tap the square they want Holiday to move to and tap an on-screen button to fire her gun. There is a small charge time between blasts, so players continue to make Holiday "dance" around the grid to avoid enemy attacks while planning her next strategic move. As hits connect, an energy bar at the bottom of the screen fills up like a Limit Break bar to open up special attacks. If Holiday is in the front row of her grid and aligned with the enemy, a blue circle appears around her, and tapping it initiates "bullet time" QTE combos to pull off special attacks. All this may sound awkward and complicated in writing, but it's fast-paced, fluid, fun, and makes perfect sense in execution. I'm happy to report that even this early build has excellent response to touch commands. Tight control and fluid response is an issue with many touchscreen games, so having responsive play control at this stage only increases my anticipation for the finished product.

There is no mistaking Revolution 60's undeniable sense of style. The colorful polygon world has a colorful look similar to the new Aspen MLT comic book Bubblegun (by Mark Roslan) and the character designs are inspired by both American cartoons (in the beautifully animated faces) and Japanese anime (in the hair and clothing.) Some people might decry the female cast's impossible "Barbie Doll" proportions or attire like micro-mini skirts or skintight body suits, but that's Giant Spacekat's stylistic choice, it works within the context of the game, and takes nothing away from technical merits such as smooth character movement and animation. The vivid colors and occasionally campy nature of the world and characters impart an imaginative sense of fun that many gamers feel is missing from the glut of dark, gritty, and hyper-realistic looking games.

The classical-meets-electronica music heard thus far is quite fitting for a game of this type and holds promise. There is also skillful voice acting in the game, due in no small part to veteran voice actress Amanda Winn-Lee lending her talents to the game. The sonic elements hold a lot of promise and I look forward to hearing more of the game's music and dialogue.

Revolution 60 has already reached its initial Kickstarter funding goal, but backing is still possible until August 30. The end of the demo projects a March 2014 release date for iOS and future release for other platforms, pending stretch goal funding. I hope a demo like this goes public soon, so players can try it out for themselves and hopefully look forward to the game as much as I do.

© 2013 Giant Spacekat. All rights reserved.

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