Twin Sector Demonstration Module

By Jim Rossignol on September 12th, 2009 at 12:49 pm.


This morning I’ve been playing the demo of first-person physics puzzler, Twin Sector. Here’s a mirror list – it’s about 800mb – and all the installers would appear to have multiple language options. I’d usually link to the GamersHell mirrors, but the file seems to be corrupted in this instance. Also, turn the subtitles off before you start playing, they’re totally out of sync with the voice acting, which is more than enough. Anyway, more thoughts on the game below.

Even the idea of a first-person puzzle game in a sci-fi science facility suggests that this is inspired by Portal, and with its full-lipped female protagonist and AI guide, the influences are strong indeed. It does lack Portal’s satirical bent, however, this is rather straight-faced fiction with a “oh amensia” premise. It’s also an entirely different puzzle set. No teleports here, insteady you have two “gravity gloves”, one for push and one for pull. What’s interesting about this idea is that it seems to be a logical extrapolation of how the gravity gun worked: you can throw yourself around with it by pushing and pulling on immovable objects. You can do power-jumps by telekinetically dragging yourself around the environment, and you can create soft landings for yourself when the drop would otherwise be lethal.

You can also, naturally, pick objects up and hurl them about to hit remote buttons, or to smash things.

What’s most interesting – and promising – about Twin Sector’s object manipulation, however, is that they’ve figured out a neat method for rotating and turning the object in front of you by using the mouse wheel. This means that when you have to place an object in a very specific place the task is entirely straightforward, rather than the accidental glitchiness we so often see in this kind of physics manipulation. I hope that this factors in to some more sophisticated challenges as the game goes forward. Because, well, the downside seems to be that I’ve been neither challenged nor surprised by the puzzles in the demo. These may or may not be representative of the full thing, of course, but it would have been good to have seen something really inventive from the off. Hopefully an escalating complexity (and difficulty) will make the game come alive as it progresses. We’ll try and get our hands on the complete version soon, and find out. If nothing else I think Twin Sector demonstrates intriguing potential. I’ve been hoping for more first-person puzzlers since Half-Life 2 (doubly since Portal) and this – despite its surface blandness – holds some promise.

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34 Comments »

  1. Vivian says:

    Hmm. Sounds worth looking at. The Dark Mod has had that kind of object fiddling for a while, hasn’t it?

  2. Tom says:

    Don’t bother with the demo. Hopefully it isn’t a good representation of the final product.
    And it runs like shite on my PC (Q6600, 8800GTX, 2Gbs) and I can see no reason for it. It’s not exactly full of whiz bang graphical effects and high poly count modelling.

  3. l1ddl3monkey says:

    That’s definitely the infomercial voice over guy from Doom 3 as the AI.

  4. bill says:

    is this connected to that other portal-inspired indie (digipen?) game that was posted here a month or two back?

    it sounds like a more professional version of the same game.

  5. Wacky says:

    Does it has monsters/aliens,any kind of combat at all?

  6. Buemba says:

    I hope this turns out to be good. The trailer didn’t fill me with confidence and the demo is just ok, but I’d love to see more great first person games that aren’t shooters.

  7. BigJonno says:

    “Because, well, the downside seems to be that I’ve been neither challenged nor surprised by the puzzles in the demo.”

    Was anyone challenged or surprised by the puzzles in Portal? I always felt that as a puzzle game, Portal was sorely lacking.

  8. Gutter says:

    Half Life 2 is a first person puzzler? Where? How?

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    I think Portal was pretty inventive by turns, and the sheer idea of portalling was pretty interesting on its own.

  10. Luke says:

    I’ve hopes for this one, ’cause I love games about new way of movement inside the scenario.

    Is there something similar already out there, even indie, that you like to suggest me?

  11. Gutter says:

    @BigJonno : You’d be right. I think that the *only* puzzle that made me pause in Portal was the one with the stairs and the exit on a platform above the top of the stair.

    And after I finished the game and played with the dev commentary, the commentary for the level explained how to completely bypass the puzzle with a well placed portal

    Kinda sad… I loved the game, don’t get me wrong, but because of the atmosphere, not the puzzles.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Gutter: HL2 is not a first person puzzler, but it introduced tools you could easily use to make one.

  13. BigJonno says:

    Portal is a brilliant game, but I feel that people are somewhat blinkered when it comes to brilliant games. I tend to be most critical of games that I love and it often makes me feel like the madman sitting in the corner shouting stuff that no-one else wants to hear. In the case of Portal it was “This game is really easy, plays almost identically to the freebie original and, despite being completely linear and consisting of one character talking to you for the whole thing, is being hailed as a pinnacle of gaming narrative.”

    To be fair, a couple of those apply to Bioshock as well and may be a result of my deeply-held conviction that the strength of videogames as an art form are interactivity and freedom.

  14. Luke says:

    There’s always someone who does not understand why something is brilliant…

    BTW, who knows some other games similar to Portal and this Twin Sector, even indie?

  15. BigJonno says:

    https://www.digipen.edu/fileadmin/website_data/gallery/game_websites/NarbacularDrop/

    There you go. From what I understand, Valve saw this and hired the team to make a commercial version. Portal is the end result.

  16. Luke says:

    Thanks, I’ve played it ages ago, I need others!! :D

  17. Luke says:

    Yep, already played.
    I’m sure I can’t recall all of them, but let me try to list those that I’ve seen. Feel free to post others.
    -R&D
    -Glasshouse
    -TAG
    -another igf entry similar to TAG
    -portal
    -Narbacular drop
    -…

  18. Mentalepsy says:

    According to the manual included with the demo, the full game will require a Steam account. Guess I’ll give this one a miss, then, too.

  19. Cirdain says:

    TJ’s right
    http://www.moddb.com/mods/research-and-development
    that’s gotta be insanely hard to better than. Cos’ R&D set a fucking high bar.

  20. SteveHatesYou says:

    Rotating with the mouse wheel is interesting, but is there a way to select which axis you want to rotate on?

  21. hydra9 says:

    Did anyone else have a problem with jumping and running in the demo? I was able to do both until the first obstacle (the part where the tutorial actually tells you to jump!) at which point the keys did nothing. Still able to continue, thanks to the gloves’ abilities, of course ;)

    Anyway, I’m not too impressed. Very dull and nonsensical environments and something like this needs a quickload that’s actually quick.

  22. Villane says:

    Crap, this insists installing into C:, where I have no space.

  23. Markoff Chaney says:

    I was able to install it on my K drive. I’ll probably fire it up sometime in the next couple days to try it out. Thanks for the heads up!

  24. Villane says:

    Ah, it doesn’t need to install into C:, but requires a lot of temp space in the temp folder.

  25. hydra9 says:

    Also from HeadUp Games:

    GearGrinder demo

  26. bill says:

    Ahah! Glasshouse! That’s the one i was looking for. I knew RPS featured a similar seeming game a short while back, but the RPS search engine unfortunately failed to come up with anything.
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/04/06/throwing-cubes-in-glasshouse/

  27. Luke says:

    Yep, I searched that just because you mentioned it :) BTW, it’s pure crap, sorry. Ok, it’s the last project of those students, but, you know, you can train an artist but you cannot train a “visionary”!

    Don’t get fooled, R&D has a professional level of polish in it and it’s pretty entertaining, but it lacks of genuine wow-moments. It ends to stand out because of the loads of crap mods out there, and, well, because it’s really well crafted.

    …ahem… don’t forget to mention other similar games you are aware of…

    bye

  28. MinisterofDOOM says:

    The controls for Twin Sector are horrendously clunky and also tend to have a press-and-pray ambiguity to them that really detracts from any potential the puzzles might have. You spend more time trying to move around and aim your tosses right than you do actually solving puzzles.

    And why on earth does Ashley walk more slowly backward than forward? What possible positive value could that have as far as gameplay goes? Every aspect of Twin Sector is littered with little things like that really make me question Head-Up Games competence.

  29. noggin says:

    Tried it, uninstalled it.

    It’s kind of vague when you pick objects up, not like the decisive snap of the gravity gun.

    And finding fuses & keycard “puzzles” are pretty tiresome.

  30. coupsan says:

    Fuck yeah, corrupt download!

  31. Marcin says:

    I also found the interesting promise horribly marred by the sluggishness of the rendering. I tried various graphics options (and I can run Crysis at a decent clip) to no avail so … I’m not sure what’s causing it but it’s icky!

    Pity, because it seemed at least a little different, although the trailer was a tad heavy on the explosions.

  32. Stick says:

    Yeah, the demo seems to perform shabbily on decent hardware. (And there are funky audio skipping bugs, but that might just be me.)

    Hm. Chell has magic leg braces, the Wolverine-formerly-known-as-Prince rewinds time and Lara… well, at least she has load-free automatic checkpoints.

    Here, I rediscover my entire lack of tolerance for do-or-die jumping puzzles with not-very-quickload as the only fallback.

    Uninstalled rather quickly. Shame, since it did look at bit interesting. (And the “what female persona, I want to be HAL!” approach to the AI… amused me.)

  33. ZIGS says:

    Well, I’m enjoying it so far