Pawarumi (opens in new tab) is a "retro futuristic sci-fi pre-Columbian" arcade shooter that launched on Steam Early Access (opens in new tab) last October. At the time, small French indie developer Manufacture 43 (opens in new tab) said it expected to remain in Early Access for two to three months. It sounds like they were right: Pawarumi will officially release on January 30, the studio announced today.
Neo-Aztec is probably a more useful descriptor here. Basically, Pawarumi imagines a world where ancient civilizations not only didn't die off, but advanced a branch of technology built on light and gravity rather than, say, electricity and steam. Hence the neon-lit stone ships plowing through ancient-looking temples.
"Through their technology and their wisdom, they managed to make contact with three ethereal and much more powerful beings," Pawarumi's site explains. "Those deities took physical [form] in the shape of a serpent, a condor and a jaguar, and gave them free access to their infinite energies."
The oddball setting ties directly into the core systems. The serpent, condor and jaguar gods manifest as your ship's three main weapons—a spread shot, a laser, and homing missiles respectively. The rechargeable super attack combines all three into a screen-wiping assault.
Weapons aside, the core of Pawarumi's combat is its 'trinity mechanic.' Taking cues from Ikaruga, Pawarumi's enemies are also assigned a deity, meaning the weapon types you use will yield different results.
Manufacture 43 says the trinity was also inspired by rock-paper-scissors, and it shows. In crush mode, you deal more damage. In drain mode, you charge your super attack quicker. And in boost mode, you refill your shield at the cost of buffing enemies. It sounds like a fun way to liven up traditional shmup action, and it's especially interesting in an age where indies are fighting to keep arcade shooters alive. (opens in new tab)