Exploring Diversity In Gaming: Games By Black Developers

Originally, I was going to be writing an article on the history of the RPG genre. Recent events have changed this, and I feel a very strong conviction that instead, I need to write something a bit more relevant to today’s climate.

Since November/December of last year, everything seems to be in a complete downward spiral in the world. The novel coronavirus which quickly spread and still is a danger to us all. The senseless attack on someone jogging in Georgia in February. The appearance of the Asian giant hornet in Washington State. This year seems to have a new major tragedy every month.

A question on many people’s mind is what they can do to help with bringing awareness to what is going on in the world. The social injustices that are happening seem to be too much. One of the biggest things I have seen over the last week is finding out which companies are owned by African Americans, finding the charities that work to provide support to social justice groups, and the like. However, those things are not the only way that we can show support.

In every industry there are people of color, and I want to take some time to put a spotlight on some game developers and their games.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

The first game I want to talk about is called Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan. The game is developed by a Central African development studio named Kiro’o Games. The game came out in 2016 and has received excellent reviews on Steam. The store page on Steam has the following description for the game.

Who am I ? What is my place in this world ?
There comes a time when everyone asks himself these questions. On Aurioma, an energy called Aurion reacts only to those who seek answers, connecting them to their ancestors.

In the city of Zama, Enzo and Erine Kori-Odan the king and queen, are crowned on their wedding day. But this happy day will be the beginning of their struggles, their trials and their journey to find the true meaning of the Kori-Odan Heritage (legacy).

Aurion Legacy of the Kori Odan trailer from oneplay.com YouTube channel

After about 100 minutes of gameplay, I felt like I had enough to go on with how the story is looking to play out. It’s a journey to reclaim Enzo and Erine’s lost home, taken in a coup by Erine’s brother.

The game’s artwork is absolutely astounding. It’s a beautiful game. The colors are very vibrant, and the setting really gives a good feeling to the setting. Characters depicted are of African descent, though there’s no indication if the setting is based on a real world or a fictional area. One important thing to note is that the artwork is completely hand-drawn. The animation is extremely smooth and the game felt good to play.

However, the combat of the game is so far my favorite part. It’s combo based, and a bit button-mashy, but that isn’t a problem. I played the game with an Xbox controller, and the game recommends using a controller over the mouse and keyboard. You have spells you can use, a special aura-like form that has even more spells (with amazing, compact animations that don’t interrupt flow of combat), and then your basic attack which can be chained for combos both in the air and on the ground.

It includes some cutscenes as well, however they are completely in engine, and are just amazingly animated.

The game promises a story without cliché, though thus far, I cannot say how accurate that is. 97 minutes of gameplay got me through the first boss fight and tutorial parts. All in all, thus far the game feels and plays great and I’m for sure going to be working my way through finishing the story.

Chrono Ghost

I picked up a 2D side-scroller game called Chrono Ghost, developed by NITETIME Studios. You control a ghost with the ability to speed up and slow down time. You use these abilities to bypass obstacles. In normal mode you have a time limit and a set number of lives. For the first section of the game, I was given a time limit of 15 minutes. After that, I discovered my timing just wasn’t good enough to complete the level.

The Steam store page has this as the game’s description:

As the Chrono Ghost, you have the responsibility of proving yourself to the Spirit of Time. You also seek the truth to some unanswered questions. How did you end up here? Why are you the Chrono Ghost? Who or what is the Spirit of Time? Why are you chosen to complete the Spirit of Time’s test?

Your time abilities will only work on certain objects depending on color. This game tests your dexterity, reaction speed, timing, and overall ability to react to and overcome the continuous flow of obstacles. The game gets much more difficult in later levels. This is a game about precise timing. Are you up for the challenge?

Chrono Ghost trailer from NITETIME Studios YouTube channel

Obviously, I am not up for the challenge. I found the game enjoyable from what I could play and feel like if I did have the timing needed for this game, I would enjoy it immensely. The motion is very smooth, and the artwork is enjoyable.

If these kinds of games are your kind of game, I would recommend this. I cannot speak much for the story as I was not able to really explore it much.

Finally, I want to write a brief mark up on another game that is coming out soon. Unfortunately, there is not presently a demo for the game, but there is a YouTube gameplay demo for it. The game is a parkour Mirror’s Edge like game called Aerial_Knights Never Yield. The Steam store page has this to say about it:

Take the role of Wally. A mysterious kid out to recover items from his past with the hope of saving what’s left of the future. Hopefully, you’re fast enough to outrun your enemies and expose the truth. Or at least live long enough to see what happens.

Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a 3D side-scroller that plays much like a classic endless runner. The game has an interesting story that keeps players always in motion. Run, Jump, Slide or “Dash” for acrobatic variants leading to dope combinations and avoid the challenges that await. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is being built for players who love to speedrun games while being an experience that casual players will enjoy as well.

Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield tailer from Neil Jones YouTube channel

These games are just a small sample of games developed by an underrepresented group of people in the gaming industry. They’re all enjoyable games and there is something for everyone.

I hope that these games are just the beginning not only for independent developers of color, but also for games exploring new territory.

Let us know if you played any of these games in the comments, or other related games you can recommend!

Pick up Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan on Steam.

Pick up Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield on Steam

Pick up Chrono Ghost on Steam

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