By Alec Meer on August 17th, 2009 at 10:30 pm.
One Michael Todd drops us a mail about his submission for the ever-delightful Experimental Gameplay Project, as part of its August-long ‘Bare Minimum’ contest. I read it. I click on the link contained in it. I play the game it leads to. Why yes, I would jump off a cliff if somebody asked me to. Fortunately, there is no nasty surprise in this case – instead, an ethereal real-time strategy game that’s stripped to the bone in terms of its mechanics, but with a style and pace that somehow makes it feel nothing at all like an RTS. Why, even John Walker might enjoy this army game.
It’s a tale of the inspecifically tragic and inspecifically sinister Malakai, who’s in search of his similarly mysterious brothers. To do this, he needs Hope – which, in a rather pleasing metaphor, happens to be the name of some sort of energy from which tanks and bombers and turrets and whatnot can be built. Which is where you come in, of course. The challenge isn’t complex in the grand scheme of RTSery, though the waves of enemies can become overwhelming, and in turn the lack of a Save function deeply infuriating.
No matter. The appeal and the success of it all is in the threadbare but affecting style of it – very much reminiscent of Darwinia, but starker, and perhaps a little less arch. There are trace elements, too, of Supreme Commander’s boxy genocide, and perhaps even a little Sacrifice to the surreal edges. Perhaps the faces on Malakai and his brothers are a little too hyper-indie lo-fi, but then again the whole game was made in seven days. Heckuva job considering, Mr Todd.
Despite all the death and construction, it’s a peculiarly calming game – RTS as balm rather than maths and testosterone.
A mere 15Mb and zero pennies, available from here.