Video Games

A Bright Game in a Small World

Illuminating Point-and-click Puzzles

The lights have gone out in Lume, and it’s up to you to get them back on. This point-and-click puzzle game, developed by State of Play, has an elegance and sophisticated aesthetic not seen in other casual puzzlers. While you have seen many of these puzzles before, especially if you’ve played any of the big name puzzle games released in the last few years, Lume remains challenging.

lume image(image source: The Mac Gamer)

The story begins as the main character, Lumi, approaches her grandfather’s house. With some hovering of the cursor, the player can easily identify the hotspots and what needs to be sorted out. Lumi has to first find her way into her grandfather’s home, and then begin getting the power back on and solving the mystery of how it went out in the first place. It’s a fairly straightforward story, but Lumi is endearing, and the paper model environment is a more than a little like a storybook.
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To the Left, to the Left

The Humble Indie Bundle finishes up today, and I thought I would take a look at one of the older games packaged with this third release. Osmos, released in August of 2009 for just about every OS, was included in Bundle #2 and is available as a bonus in #3. Developed by Hemisphere Games, the player is a mote, or single-celled organism, gobbling up all the other organisms around.

Backwards, Forwards, Left and Right

Much like 7 pm at the bar, Osmos involves bumping up against those around you, trying not to get rejected. Okay, it’s nothing like that. Osmos is about propelling a mote gently among lots of other motes, sometimes computer controlled, sometimes randomly moving, attempting to “swallow” smaller motes. If the player’s mote comes into contact with a larger mote, it will lose some volume; if it slams into a larger mote with too much force, the smaller mote will be swallowed whole.

osmos image

Take a Leap

Keep typing Vs until your typewriter runs out of ink

The Humble Indie Bundle #3 is wrapping up, and one of the standouts is VVVVVV. That’s six Vs. VVVVVV was released in January 2010 for PC and Mac and in late July 2011 for Linux; it was designed by Terry Cavanagh and scored by Magnus Pålsson. VVVVVV’s inventive and unexpected method of roaming within the 2D environment pushes the envelope of what platforming is and can be. It’s difficult to imagine this game on disc for a console, and the ingenuity of motion in VVVVVV in itself furthers the case for indie game development and support for indie games from both casual and hardcore gamers.

V Mechanics

VVVVVV is a platformer without any jumping. Hold the phone! Platforming without jumping? Instead of jumping, VVVVVV allows the player to control gravity, reversing up and down to move the character among the platforms. Using the gravity manipulation, the player avoids wall, floor, and ceiling spikes and the moving enemies. The environment consists of a mainly flat, black background and a neon outline or solid foreground. There can sometimes be a bit of a seizure effect, neon images flashing different colors against the black backdrop; this game doesn’t play when it says it may give you epilepsy. It may give you epilepsy. (Disclaimer: I don’t know if this game will give you epilepsy. It gave me migraines.) It would be super-awesome disco V epilepsy, though.

vvvvvv image(image source: Indie Reviews)

I nicknamed that guy the Seizure Elephant. He’s sad because he gave me a seizure.
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What’s Stopping Glitch From Becoming Farmville?

What is a Glitch?

Glitch is a new MMORPG from Tiny Speck, so new, pre-new even, that it’s still in beta and you need an invite to join. It’s more than a little bizarre, with piggies inviting you to “nibble” them for meat and massaging butterflies the primary course to acquiring dairy products. There is as yet no combat, though recent signs point to a change there. The future combat looks to be rare, however, and the primary focus of the game will remain cooperation and friendship between players in the world that they in some ways create and no doubt affect.

During the Glitch beta period, which seems to last for an infinite “six weeks,” the game is periodically “open” and “closed” to players, and while the developers give hints as to when the game will next be available to play, nothing is ever written in stone. The elephant in the room is that at some future date, when the beta is ready to go public, the game will be reset and all progress gained during the beta period will be lost. Beta players understand this to be a way to level the playing field for new players just entering the world, but there is an underlying fatalism that everything done in the game isn’t going to last much longer. While the devs are entirely upfront about the reset, I wonder how many beta players will be discouraged by their loss of progress and not return when the game goes public, not as a conscious decision but out of lack of continued interest. The Glitch beta players are no doubt valuable to the community, as they will serve as ambassadors for the new, post-reset players, shepherding in refugees from Farmville and similar Facebook games. While Google+ remains Restaurant City-free, it may be non-combat MMORPGs that fill the time-sink hole for those fleeing Facebook.
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