Feature

I <3 LAGS Volume 2

You’re quickly running out of time to grab the LA Game Space Experimental Games Pack. If you’re still sitting on the fence, maybe this will help.

I wouldn’t really say these are reviews, more like views, but hopefully you find them informative.

Depth by Vince McKelvie

Following in the footsteps of Receiver and SUPERHOT, Depth is the next example of how all the most interesting innovations in first person gaming are happening in the indie sphere.

It’s a puzzler very much in the same vein as the original Portal, with white-walled test chambers for you to solve using the game’s unique mechanic. In Depth this mechanic is based around your point-of-view; each room contains small blue cubes which you can manipulate simply by changing the angle at which you view it. If you need it to be large enough to fit between a gap that’s far too wide to jump, get up real close to it before you click.

The first time you see it in action is exactly like the first time you saw yourself entering a portal – that pure, brain-hurting ‘woah’. Best of all, it still has the freeform element that the original Portal had, before the tight restrictions of the puzzles in Portal 2, so when you solve a puzzle you always feel like you solved it, as opposed to figuring out how the developer wanted you to solve it.

Depth looks great, looking familiar but with a distinctive-enough colour palette, and the music looping in the background suits it perfectly. My only complaint is that the lack of a player avatar can make even simple jumps hard to gauge, but otherwise it is a sublime first person puzzler, and for a part of an experimental games pack it’s quite substantial.

 

gamespaceSpacegame by Noah Sasso

gamespaceSpacegame must surely have the most fitting name out of all the games in the pack, though Noah really missed a trick by not giving the game a splash screen that says ‘Press Space to Game’.

gamespaceSpacegame is a retro-tinged game about life and death on a dilapidated space station… Ok, it’s mainly about death. Your avatar is vulnerable to anything and everything on the space station, apart from the birds, the birds are nice. There are murderous trashcans, security lasers, electrical faults, fires, and even gravity itself all ready to kill you.

The trial and error format is reminiscent of old-school games, and won’t appeal to many, but it’s some simple fun with some genuinely great music making up the soundtrack.

 

Guilded Youth by Jim Munroe & Matt Hammill

Guilded Youth is actually available to play for free online here, but the version available in the LAGS Pack is a special edition. It’s presented as a text adventure with the green and black graphics of your old Micro Bee computers, and you play as Tony – a thief when interacting with others on a BBS, or a regular teenage kid when he’s offline. Your goal is to enlist the other role-players for an adventure in your real-life neighbourhood.

The story is well told, the interplay between the real world and the RP world is interesting, and it is great for some nostalgic pangs if you ever bragged about the bitrate of your modem on a BBS, used a Microbee, and remember when porn magazine (printed on paper!) where better than currency. The best part about it is possibly the fact that there is only a limited selection of actions available to you, neatly sidestepping the common issue with text adventures of knowing what you need to do, but having no idea how to parse it properly.

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