Belgian Game Spotlight - Spookware
Spookware is made by Beeswax Games, a small team of three young developers who had a first success with No Players Online (which even won the Best Student Game award at the Belgian Game Award in 2020) and are now working on this episodic indie gem that can best be described as Paper Mario + WarioWare.
That is assuming you know the aforementioned titles however, so we'll delve deeper into what makes Spookware tick and why you should be excited for this polished Belgian release.
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Spookware may look like just a collection of minigames at first, but there is actually a wonderfully light-hearted narrative that knits it all together. You play as LEFTI, MIDI & RIGHTI, three skeleton brothers, in a skeleton world, going to a skeleton school and going on a skeleton cruise. (I think you get the gist of it by now)
Their world mimics our own, but since the characters are all bones and no flesh, normal rules don't apply and they'll constantly remind you of this by referencing bone jokes or letting you play over-the-top horror themed minigames. We've mentioned how it's similar to Paper Mario and that's because that popular series is equally self-aware and uses it to good comedic effect.
You start the game in their basement, playing reflex-based minigames in quick succession and getting to grips with the controls, which mostly rely on using the arrow keys as instructed.
For those of you who've played WarioWare before, how you control these short-burst games will feel familiar, only this time there is a spooky theme added which gives the game its own unique identity. You'll get a brief, one-sentence instruction and then you'll have to quickly figure out what is expected of you and perform the task as fast as possible. Rinse and repeat and do it faster next time.
They're fun and some of them can even be quite gruesome, like skewering eyeballs on a cocktail stick or slicing off fingers as appetizers when you're working in a restaurant. It can be challenging at first, but once you understand what it is you have to do in each game and train your muscle memory, you'll enjoy them even more.
Visually, the game is dripping with quality. There is a unique aesthetic being used here that borrows some elements from Paper Mario (the thin, paper-like characters) but looks like nothing else entirely. Even the chapter-select screen manages to impress with how nice the chosen style fits with the game.
It's like a mix of real photos, combined with an oil-painting filter and 3D assets that seem to have come from the first PlayStation's era of games, while still looking crisp for a modern game, despite the added distortion that makes it all look like it's playing on an old TV set. The use of shadows and light is also contributing a lot to the overall atmosphere.
The first Episode of Spookware is out now on Steam and Itch.io, which has four playable chapters. With three more chapters on the way to expand this wonderful adventure.
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Want to keep up-to-date on the game and the studio? Here are a few places you can follow them:
We hope you've enjoyed this feature article and if you're a Belgian game developer yourself, don't be afraid to reach out and maybe we'll spotlight your game next month!