I was looking forward to meeting the guys from Merge Games. I’ll admit that it was for a single title: Riot: Civil Unrest. Not many of you know this but I’m originally from Venezuela, a country that in the past few years has had its fair share of protests, marches and full on riots. It became very common to see it on TV.

So when I saw this game about Riots, about altercations with the police, Molotov cocktails, thrown bottles and angry shouts, it tugged at some part of me. So I had to see it.

It was a great surprise then, when other titles in their lineup attracted me as well.

Cast of the Seven Godsends made me relive the days I played Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and Nick Clarkson, PR Manager at Merge Games, told me that was exactly what it was meant to be, an old school action platformer. The visual style is even like that classic title, though it’s still unique in its own.

Cast of the Seven Godsends stars young King Kandar fighting a horde of demons to save his lands, using the armours of the Gods—the Godsends in the title—to help him in his fight. The story is quite simple and straightforward, but much like Ghost ‘n Goblins, in Cast of the Seven Godsends you’re here about the fun, the action and the ridiculous difficulty. In my time playing the demo I couldn’t clear the first level. I think I managed to get to a midboss but that was about it. It’s that difficult. Then again, much like in Ghost ‘n Goblins, I have a knack for losing powerups right after I collect them.

Cast of the Seven Godsends is already on Steam, and unlike many games in this age, there is a demo, so you can check it out!

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space was a weird one for me. I’m good at solving puzzles and I can usually get the gist of a game very quickly, but with Albedo I couldn’t even leave the first room. I tried to make sense of it, tried to use the environment to my advantage but couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on.

According to Nick, that’s pretty much how the entire game is. In fact, he said when Merge Games became the game’s publisher they went through it and made it more accessible, easier to figure out.

With the people behind me waiting to play, I couldn’t give this title the time it deserved, or myself the chance to actually figure things out. So I’m likely to give Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space another shot, even if it means dealing with the quite frankly terrible voice acting.

Riot: Civil Unrest was the Merge Games title I had my eye on for the reasons I mentioned earlier.

It was a title Nick and I spoke of at length during my time at EGX. According to him, Leonard Menchiari, the game’s creator, took part in the NoTAV protests in Italy. The people were protesting against a plan for a high-speed train railway between the cities of Lyon in France and Turin in Italy. The railway would go through the Susa Valley and its construction would have negative impacts not only on the valley itself, for environmental reasons, but also on the health of the people that lived in it.

As part of the protests, Leonard had the chance to speak to both sides and realised that rioters and police had similar goals. According to Nick, the police told Leonard, “Look, we agree with you, we don’t want the railway, but we’re here to stop you from breaking stuff.” In this he realised they weren’t part of the problem, they weren’t enemies or barriers to overcome but good people doing their jobs. This left in Leonard an idea that in order to understand riots, you had to be part of them. That is the origin of Riot: Civil Unrest. It’s a simulator for people to understand how riots come about, how things move and change during them.

Riot: Civil Unrest
It’s getting dangerous tonight!

In my demo I played as the police and it was my job to contain a relatively peaceful protest. Things started to escalate and I put my police in in formation and pushed the protesters back…until Nick cheated. He pressed a couple of buttons that instantly turned the protest into a raging mob that did to my police officers what the scarabs do to people in The Mummy. They swarmed over them and I never saw them again.

Nick apologised for it–while laughing–but it was a good way to see just how badly things can go.

For the demo they only had the police segment but he assured me both sides would be playable over four long campaigns: Indignados in Spain (an ongoing anti-austerity movement), the Egypt part of Arab Spring (which ended with the resignation and incarceration of president Hosni Mubarak), Keratea in Greece (protests and riots against a plan for a Landfill near this small village south of Athens) and finally the NoTAV protest that the creator of Riot: Civil Unrest took part of.

I mentioned to Nick what I said at the start of this article, about the protests in my home country and he said that even if they don’t include them, they will release tools for the community to create their own campaigns, so it’s likely we’ll see riots and other such conflicts from around the world. I said jokingly that we might even see crises from other time periods, from the far-flung past and he agreed and said they were all excited to see what the community will create when Riot: Civil Unrest releases later this year.

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