Ludum Dare 35 — April 15th-18th, 2016 — Theme: Shapeshift

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Grokh's Arena

by Cerno_b - Compo Entry

Survive the ten deadly rounds of Grokh's Arena.

Shift between three shapes to exploit your opponents' weaknesses

Written in C++ using cocos2d-x
Graphics drawn with Aseprite
Sound Effects generated with sfxr
Music written in Reaper using the outstanding free Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra VST.

The source code is included in the game download.

Edit: Added a separate download for the sources.

Edit: I uploaded a timelapse making-of:

Edit: Postmortem available:

Downloads and Links




srakowski says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 2:37am

Really enjoyed the art and the overall art style :). Was hard to hit those things on the ground with the one guy. Good job! :)

pixlark says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 2:50am

Very fun game! Couple of problems:

- It's not always entirely clear what shape is best for what enemy.
- The witch's projectiles don't seem to work super well

Did you really make the music yourself? It's impressive!

I can't make it past the second round of bats... :-)

Great game! Good job!

Apr 18, 2016 @ 3:10am

Where's the source code?

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 3:30am

Sorry, the source code is within the zip file next to the exe.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 3:37am

@pixlark The idea was to let the player figure out what works best for what, but I assume the motivation may not be there to play long enough.

- Wizard is strong against archers (since the other characters take too much damage approaching them)
- Fighter is strong against slimes (since he is fast enough to dance around them)
- Golem is strong against knights (since he is armored and only takes little damage.

- Wizard is weak against slimes since he takes a lot of damage and too slow to avoid them
- Fighter is weak against knights since they have longer range
- Golem is weak against archers since he can't avoid them and is too slow to approach.

And yes, I wrote the music in about an hour. It's just two drums and a trombone from Sonatina and an organ from CamelAudio Alchemy. Pretty good VSTs.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 3:42am

@retrogradeorbit: I added a separate link for the source code.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 3:45am

@Cerno_b: Uh, It's really four drums ;)

darksshades says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 4:46am

Nice game! Love the minimalist art.

nicotuason says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 5:02am

Fun little arena figther/shooter! I like the variety and combinations of enemies - it keeps the game interesting. Great music too!

I think the game would be improved if it were more obvious when you get hurt or when you land a hit on an enemy.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 7:48am

@nicotuason I know, right? :) I wanted to have different sound effects based on which kind of hits were effective, but time was just too short, I had other cool ideas as well that had to be scrapped. Maybe next time ;)

HawkSandwich says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 9:20am

I like the way it looks and plays

mutonizer says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 9:29am

Damn, gets really rough after round 5 or 6 and couldn't finish it yet.

Good fun though, nice one.
Apart from the Golem on Knights, not sure if there's a real rock/paper/scissor balance formula for enemies but these frikkin bats are crazy :)

Controls are tight, games does what it's supposed to and fits theme. Kudos!


Saladon says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 10:29am

I love the challenge and the art style. Good job.

TideS says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 11:04am

Addictive gameplay and neat graphics. Gratz with your entry!

Apr 18, 2016 @ 11:12am

I always find these games hard. Love the silhouette graphics though.

Max Amaden says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 4:29pm

Great little game! Love the death screen, reminds me of dark souls :P

Keep up the good work!

CMLSC says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 4:44pm

It was fun! :D

It was satisfying to kill something, but some of the enemies lacked attack animations.

Wevel says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 5:01pm

The sounds didn't quite seem to fit the game very well, but still a cool art style

vini60 says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 5:11pm

Nice game. Really cool that you need to find out what character is strong against certain enemy.
Nice music and graphics too.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 5:55pm

@Max Amaden: Yeah it's a shameless rip-off*cough*homage. Watch the timelapse linked above and you can see that it's actually a pixel by pixel copy of Dark Souls' death screen ;)

@CMLSC: Yes that was on my list. I wanted the knights move their pikes like in the SNES version of Zelda and the archers to actually lose the arrow when firing. Also all the character art was supposed to be colored later on but time ran out.

@Wevel: Do you mean the sound effects? That's what you get spending 15 minutes on sfxr instead of recording proper sounds, but I couldn't fit in anything else.

@everyone: Thanks a lot for the nice feedback. I'll try to play/review all of your games later.

WizzardMaker says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 6:01pm

Great Game, had fun playing it, and it seems like the health bar goes a bit in the negative before I die

fanatiko says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 6:56pm

Loved the art sytle. I think the black shapes with the limited pallete of the background works very well. The music sounds very nice (maybe a little out of the retro style but if I knew how to do music like this I would go for it :))

The game is quite fun, although I must confess I cheated by reading the comments before playing.

glaze_96 says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 8:43pm

Damn blob thingies! Kills me every time!

Fun game!

Adipson says ...
Apr 18, 2016 @ 8:51pm

nice job ! ;)

urfbound says ...
Apr 19, 2016 @ 1:48am

Great game! I love the classic vibe - the sprites and backgrounds are well made and all create the mood well. The music is also well made and completes the aesthetic. Good use of the theme adding the shapeshifting to the player character as their main power, I like that certain forms are better against certain enemies. It's mostly intuitive but sometimes a little tough to figure out - maybe colouring would make it a little easier. Plus then maybe you could change it around, so that like you have to switch to the slow-moving giant to fight fast enemies in later levels. The controls were super tight and felt really professional. I liked those a lot. My only other recommendation would be to add some little tip to make it easier to tell when your health goes up. Maybe a sound effect or flicker on the health bar. Overall a great game and I had a blast playing it! Great work for such a short time. Hope you had fun participating, and thanks for your submission! :D

Apr 19, 2016 @ 2:52am

I love the graphical style! Gameplay was pretty fun, but a bit slow. Enemies should have had a little less health, in my mind.Music is great too, but, like some other people, I don't think it fit that well.

mrnannings says ...
Apr 19, 2016 @ 9:37am

Nice game. Its simple but fun. It fits the theme of the jam. I don't like the graphics. Audio is good. Its overall a fun game.

psychomonster says ...
Apr 19, 2016 @ 10:55pm

Cool game... Needs some polishing of smne enemies and you should put the source code to it... Nice job I played it twice :)

WojtaW says ...
Apr 20, 2016 @ 9:32pm

Funny! I love how the music builds tension ever round.

Ayawaska says ...
Apr 20, 2016 @ 10:29pm

Nicely done. good job

sP0CkEr2 says ...
Apr 21, 2016 @ 4:18am

i was doing well and then BAM - two enemies - this was really fun - nice job

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 21, 2016 @ 6:04pm

@WizzardMaker: Yeah, the health bar glitch is a known issue I wasn't able to iron out at the end. I know why it happens, I just couldn't fix it on time. It's a minor issue compared to the missing win screen and the fact the game just exits out on you once you win (nobody noticed yet, so I guess the difficulty is just right) ;)

@fanatiko: I agree that the music clashes a bit with the visuals. Maybe I could keep working on it later and change the instrumentation to be more retro but retain some of the oomph of the current version.

@urfbound: Thanks a lot for that detailed review! My original plan was to use the black shapes only as outlines to get a feeling for the visuals and then fill in colors when the game is playable. The tight schedule made short work of that. Maybe I'll keep working on the game to fix some issues. I could try and put in the boss fight I was planning from the beginning. Then I could deal with making the strengths and weaknesses more obvious visually and with better audio cues. Really glad you liked the controls, that makes me proud. The audio cue for the health bar was also planned but scrapped. I had indeed fun, although I never had as much stress in my whole life as during these two days.

@TerraCottaFrog: Wow, the game should be everything but slow. Just in case you return here, would you mind telling me your setup? I had some slowdown on my wife's laptop but that disappeared so unfortunately I cannot reproduce it.

@psychomonster: But, but, I did. :( It's right there next to the download on this page and it's also included in the zip file of the game.

@everyone else who I didn't mention: Thanks a lot for your kind feedback.

UltraRat says ...
Apr 23, 2016 @ 3:41am

SNNNAAAKKKESSS!!!! ( well I guess they're slimes judging by your comment but killed me every time. )

Also apparently every time I see a Dark Souls style ending screen I mentally replace it with "Thanks Obama"

Madsj says ...
Apr 23, 2016 @ 8:58am

Game closed on me after one of the later waves, I assume I won? I used only the Wizard. Thought the animations were humorous and the gameplay was engaging. the whole arena setting with the Frog king at the top is cool. I actually didn't die but I saw the deadpan You Died screen on a stream.

Cerno_b says ...
Apr 23, 2016 @ 12:34pm

Congratulations to Madsj, the first person to actually complete the game!

I'm sorry about the missing ending screen. I had to wrap up the game in the last remaining minutes and wasn't able to shovel in an ending screen. I could have gone back to the start screen, but my sleep-depraved mind didn't think of that.

AnaGF says ...
Apr 23, 2016 @ 8:41pm

Cool game, really funny! I like how you designed it by rounds.

knason says ...
Apr 24, 2016 @ 6:18pm

Yay, this was quite fun, well done! I liked the graphics and the audio adds alot to it. Good job!

Apr 25, 2016 @ 4:58am

Nice little arena fighter. Liked the different characters and how they clearly had distinguishing strengths from each other and the enemies.

Apr 25, 2016 @ 3:05pm

Lovely game! I included it in my video compilation series of Ludum Dare games, if you’d like to check them out :)

oparisy says ...
Apr 25, 2016 @ 8:22pm

I liked the retro art style! Controls are very intuitive, I needed no time to adapt. It was fun to try the different classes against opponents.

Apr 26, 2016 @ 4:36pm

I loved how the the minimalism in both design and art creates a nice mood. The retro "lowrez" pixel animations were pretty nice and the gameplay itself is fun to play and pretty addictive even if I wasn't super good, I died a lot of times at round 5 I think (but I was better after reading your spoilers tips and finally finished the game after several tries). Nice controls and variety too, it's a cool Compo entry !

Diel Mormac says ...
May 1, 2016 @ 7:35pm

Hello, I would love to play your game, but it is saying there is missing a DLL "MSVCP140.dll", I will wait the fix to play and rate it!

Cerno_b says ...
May 8, 2016 @ 10:41pm

As LD35 draws to a close, I would like to thank everyone who played and rated my first entry. It has been a lot of fun. Reading all these positive comments was exhilarating.

Surely there is a lot of room for improvement and I really learned a lot which I hope I'll be able to apply when I participate in the next LD.

One final breakdown of comments:

Thanks to Jupiter_Hadley for featuring the game on her channel. The game's audio messed up the recording so I wasn't able to hear her comments but I appreciate she took the time to play it.

@Diel Mormac: Turns out you need the newest vc_redist.exe which I added as a download link after the deadline. I know it's stupid to ask people to install something for an LD game and I will not make that mistake again.

@Everyone: I truly appreciate the kind words and also the criticism. Most of the issues reported were things I would have done differently given more time. The soundtrack was not one of these things so I found it interesting how it kept people on the fence between "good" and "not retro enough" so I guess I need to train my retro music muscles for the next LD.

TheCain says ...
May 9, 2016 @ 4:07am

Very difficult. Those crawlers just took the wind out of my sails.
Very solid though.

ocarson says ...
May 9, 2016 @ 7:34pm

This game had its own charm to it, I like what you guys were going for, felt actiony liked the shift mechanic,

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