Playing With The Steam Controller Might Be This Aussie Indie's Best Advertisment

It can be difficult for local projects to get noticed sometimes, particularly when they're fighting in a niche genre. That's especially the case if you happen to be battling it out in the world of arena shooters, a genre that's not exactly famed for its accessibility.

Reflex, a game being built by Turbo Pixel in Melbourne, is one such project fighting in that enclosed space. But over the weekend a video popped up that bizarrely might be the best advertisement it's had yet.

Last week gamers, developers, publishers and everyone in between got their hands on the consumer version of the Steam Controller. Given the way Valve pitched it, people have naturally been taking to games like Cities: Skylines, Civilization, Counter-Strike and so on, investigating its viability as a useful replacement for a mouse and keyboard.

Nathan enjoyed his time with Valve's new toy, but there were a lot of instances where it didn't feel quite right. That's been the consensus I've seen across social media, with some configuration needed before it makes that jump from "playable" to "pretty good".

But it's the below test that I found the most intriguing of the weekend. It's possibly one of the worst games possible you'd want to play with any controller: Reflex, a game that unashamedly goes back to the heydays of Quake and Unreal Tournament.

Reflex is that kind of game where you're memorising armour and item respawns. It's the kind of game that has a number at the bottom of the screen telling you how fast you're moving. It sounds a bit like Painkiller with the visual stylings of Warsaw, a fan-made shooter that was also a love letter to Quake.

In that sense, it's probably the ultimate test. So Kovaak fired up the Melbourne-made indie for an hour and was far, far more competitive than you'd think.

There are a couple of things that really intrigue me about this. The first is how it works as an advertisement for a game that has had a history of struggling. Reflex launched on Early Access after the developers cancelled their Kickstarter campaign late last year. The community is bloody minuscule too, with an average of 30 players a month.

No wonder it's so hard to get a game.

But with Dirty Bomb, the upcoming Overwatch beta, Unreal Tournament, and Cliffy B's Lawbreakers, it's no surprise that the community is going elsewhere for their fix. Even another Unreal-inspired indie, Toxikk, is barely breathing: you don't even need your whole hand for the amount of active players.

The other element to this lies in KovaaK's impressions part-way through. "I feel like there are people I can beat," KovaaK remarks in his gravely tones. The person spectating also noted that, in a game where movement is so essential, KovaaK's ability to bounce around the map was "passable".

If the Steam controller can be configured to be "passable" for something as finnicky and precise as Reflex, that's a good indicator for its potential across other shooters — and genres.


Comments

    Shame about these games. They wanted to revive the arena shooter and then suddenly a new UT is announced getting all the attention. Toxxik is pretty much dead. The only thing keeping Reflex alive is that it's more like Quake 3.

      Look at the Steam Charts link I put in -- literally could not be any more dead. It's almost heartbreaking to rewatch the Toxikk trailer, and then see that figure.

      Really crystallises where the market is at.

    Definitely a tough time to be an AFPS, especially building a new brand. We're pretty happy with how our project is going though -- we've only been publicly available for a year and we've made a huge amount of progress during that time.

    Player counts for Reflex aren't great -- we seem to be stuck in a catch 22 of "people aren't playing because people aren't playing". You can usually find a game by just jumping on an empty server and waiting a few minutes, or arranging one through our Discord server, but ultimately the solution will probably be matchmaking, which is due soon-ish.

    We've also got our 0.37 update hitting this week which brings Capture The Flag. It's been pretty easy to fill up multiple servers during our CTF tests so we expect our average player counts to climb when the update goes public.

      Sounds like something to look forward to. I've been looking for something like this for a while, used to play Quake 3 a lot back in the day.

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