Night of the Cephalopods

By Jim Rossignol on November 22nd, 2008 at 7:42 pm.


What I should be doing right now is playing Tomb Raider: Underworld for a last minute slightly behind-the-pack review, but I nevertheless find myself distracted by indie game fancies. Night of the Cephalopods is one such entertainment that takes my attention. While the game itself – one of shooting floating octopi and running for your life – is a little underwhelming, it’s the presentation that really makes this an interesting oddity: your actions are fully narrated by the protagonist’s voiceover. The poor fellow is, it seems, trapped in a Lovecraftian fiction, and he tells you all about it, from your failure to reload, to missing your shots. He’s going mad, and you have to hear about his plight. Well worth playing, if just for those bleak comedic utterances. Via Indie Games.

__________________

« | »

, .

21 Comments »

  1. Mike says:

    *Taken from wiki: Cephalopods have advanced vision, can detect gravity with statocysts, and have a variety of chemical sense organs.

    Truly these are enemies to be feared! Think I’ll go and try it out…

  2. Vagueism says:

    Brilliant little story/game!

  3. nabeel says:

    Great little game.

    nabeel

  4. Naurgul says:

    I played it too and found it pretty awesome.

  5. unclelou says:

    Very neat, great idea.

  6. Stuk says:

    Hehe, really enjoyed this. A bit simple at the moment, but with some more interesting play mechanics/puzzle solving, could be absolutely fantastic. Another target for this idea could be the film noir genre. I for one would love that :D

  7. Denton says:

    This idea could really go far. They have the Lovecraft style pretty much down, too – I really enjoyed losing this game more than winning, which is definitely a rarity.

  8. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    Doesn’t work…Dang. Doesn’t seem to be the directx problem the readme talks about.

  9. Miguel says:

    Wow! I’m happy you all are enjoying NotC! You’ll be happy to know that I’m planning on creating a larger version in the future. With both more places to explore and more dynamic narrative. I’ve added a mailing list to the spookysquid.com website you can join if you want to be kept up to date.

    @TheDeadlyShoe thanks for the heads up on the not working. Can you give me some details on what’s happening when you try to play, or email me at neko[at]silencegreys.com? I’m fixing another bug this weekend and if I can get it running on your machine while I’m at it all the better!

  10. Bhazor says:

    Why those cephalopods are just darling.

  11. PleasingFungus says:

    That was a very enjoyable little game! The death scene is great.

  12. Lim-Dul says:

    It’s quite surprising how a proper context-driven narrative with (somewhat) random comments on all actions can add to the gameplay experience. I mean – the game is as simple as games get and yet I was strangely compelled to play it through several times.

    The system reminds me a bit of the random dialog generator that Valve boasts about in games like TF2 or L4D – apparently other talented people have no problem with replicating that. ^^

    Subscribed to your mailing list to see how you’ll be faring in future. Indeed you need some additional dialog because from what I see you have two voice-over variations at most and many actions, e.g. entering a new area, are repeated more often than others and that could become annoying with time.

    I guess this freeware title is something of an advertisement and a test of how your other promising project, Guerilla Gardening: Seeds of Revolution, would be received? If it is so then I congratulate you on the marketing campaign since I will closely follow what you’re up to from now on. ^^

  13. Hybrid says:

    I loved it!

  14. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    My pockets were constantly bulging so I was not in danger of running out of ammo for quite some time.

  15. eyemessiah says:

    A maze of twisty little passages, all alike? Zork?

  16. Alex/Daffs says:

    It seems like a fine idea, and when it worked it was great, but I encountered a lot of repeated phrases (especially about the non-unique scenery and the taste of bile), which was pretty annoying.
    Playing around in the ‘dialogue’ file, though, I see there’s dozens of phrases I didn’t encounter at all. Hmm, weird.
    Just bad luck?

  17. Morberis says:

    I love it, I would pay for something like this be it for the PC or for the DS. It would need to keep the 2D style though.

  18. Miguel says:

    Wow a bunch more comments! Prepare for excessively long reply ;)

    @Lim-Dul
    Thanks for the insightful comments! Also great to hear that you played through
    several times, I have some plans for the larger version of the game that will encourage and reward playing that way to a larger extent.

    You’re correct about the narration I had at most two versions for any given action. I was working under a deadline and was only able to schedule a single day with my voice actor. I chose to get as wide a range of actions and situations covered as I could, unfortunately that meant I only had time for a fairly shallow amount of alternate dialogue. I’ll be fixing that in the larger version of the game.

    NotC wasn’t really intended as an advertisement though I’m happy if it makes you check out the other things I’m working on. Really was a chance to learn some programming and hone my skills, with something small while testing out my interactive narration idea. I’m definitely planning more freeware games in the future, I loved making this and it a good way to experiment. Also the response I’ve had over the last few days has been really encouraging. I do hope people will dig Guerrilla Gardening, it’s a much more ambitious game with a dedicated programmer so it won’t suffer from my fumbling artist code ;)

    @eyemessiah
    Yep you caught my Infocom reference. I grew up playing text adventures.

    @Alex/Daffs
    The range of dialogue you hear in a single play through is mainly the result of how you play + a certain amount of luck. It sounds like you spent most of your time badly wounded which resulted in you hearing the wounded sample a lot (hint find a safe spot and wait a few seconds). You may want to try the game and experimenting with playing in different ways. The game also takes into account whether enemies are in the ‘room’, try firing wildly at nothing in both situations. If you enjoyed the writing and art I definitely recommend playing it twice so you can see the winning and loosing endings.

    @Morberis
    As mentioned I have a larger version of the game planned (join the mailing list on spooky squid if you want news on updates). I’d love to make a DS version someday, and no worries the 2D is here to stay

  19. hydra9 says:

    Nice work, Miguel, and glad to hear you’re working on an enhanced version. I enjoyed this, particularly the strategy involved in watching your ammo count and outmanoeuvering those ghastly blue fiends.

    I got excited when I saw the old New England cemetery with tentacular statue… then dawn came and I was mercifully delivered from my hell.

    The ending screen and birdsong reminded me of the end of another Lovecraftian classic – The original Alone In The Dark.

  20. Miguel says:

    @hydra9
    Thanks hydra9 glad you enjoyed it. Did you have a chance to examine the statue? Standing near unique objects for a moment causes the narrator to describe them. Right now that’s only in the cemetery, but I’ll be doing that more in the enhanced game.

    I played the first Alone in the Dark but never reached the end. It’s too bad the later games have lost much of what made the original unique.

  21. hydra9 says:

    Cool. Didn’t know about examining objects. I’ll have to try that.

    All the best.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>