It’s A Small World. Let’s Keep It That Way.

By Kieron Gillen on October 23rd, 2009 at 8:53 pm.

It kind of reminds me of Jet Set Willy in some ways - but a dream of Jet Set Willy, as elegant as it was in my pre-teen imagination.

Just a quickie before I disappear for the weekend. Soren “Civ 4″ Johnson has just tweeted about Small Worlds, saying “What a beautiful game. This is the next-gen Prince of Persia game I always wanted to play…”. I agree, and think you should play it without any further elaboration. It’s a magically-presented exploration game. Magical. That’s the world. Go lose yourself.

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136 Comments »

  1. Helm says:

    Hm this doesn’t load for me. Just the Casual Gameplay portal graphics and a black window in the middle.

    • Wisq says:

      Needs JavaScript, cookies, and disabling any HTTP referrer spoofing.
       
      I very rarely see things that need all three of those. Sheesh. :)
       
      If you're still having trouble, try grabbing it direct at http://cgdc6.fizzlebot.com/game9.swf … may or may not work depending on how your browser handles raw Flash.

  2. sana says:

    This is quite pretty.

  3. Jonas says:

    Huh, came across this earlier today from another site, and it really worked for me. I love the subtle narrative touches and the quiet, peaceful sense of encroaching doom. I played it without music first, and that was obviously a big mistake, so I had to play it again when I had audio.

    I also really love the way he applied a texture to the pixel art. It makes the game look spectacular.

  4. Feet says:

    Brief but very enjoyable. Pure exploration gameplay.

  5. Helm says:

    Ran it in chrome which I keep exactly for these situations and I had forgotten.

    It’s very beautiful. It reminds me of this idea I had about making an open-world RPG like rings of power

    http://www.locustleaves.com/merged_map_modpalette2.png

    where the main way to be rewarded with XP and therefore to level up would not be to kill monsters or solve quests, but to just explore the overworld/underworld and make in-game maps and charts of it. Chartographer’s quest, as it were.

    I’m sure a lot of us when we play this game make blind jumps we know will not get us to the gem of the level, just to fill up our map, just so there’s no blackness left in the screen. This game is a great exploration (no pun intended) of this reflex. I can only imagine it with more fleshed out mechanics (not necessarily more gamey).

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      >I’m sure a lot of us when we play this game make blind jumps we know will not get us to the gem of the level, just to fill up our map, just so there’s no blackness left in the screen. This game is a great exploration (no pun intended) of this reflex. I can only imagine it with more fleshed out mechanics (not necessarily more gamey).

      You’re definitely not wrong there. When I quickly found the green gem my response was “Nooo…. still more beauty to be found!”

  6. Dave says:

    Clever and artsy. But I still find platformers kind of frustrating. Little pixelated bastard keeps falling off of things, etc.

  7. Casimir's Blake says:

    Bringing back memories of the days of ZZT and Megazeux. I wish there were a little more to it though, i.e. a use button? So that it feels more interactive…

  8. duel says:

    that was pretty compulsive, the way it revealed its self was beautiful. I played non stop til the end.

  9. Wisq says:

    I liked the white world. Definitely tells the story. Though I expected a lot worse from the red world and saved it for last.

  10. Inanimotioon says:

    Enjoyed that very much.

  11. lumpi says:

    Beautiful. Reminds me of “Secret of Evermore”, one of my favorite action adventures for the SNES (which most people hate because of the intentionally cheesy characters and overall American style for a Squaresoft game that kinda sounds like it had anything to do with “Secret of Mana”). Mostly because of the similarity to Jeremy Soule’s excellent soundtrack.

  12. Daniel Klein says:

    Wow, this is so beautiful. This game humbled me: I always used to think of myself as a purely competitive gamer, fiero all the way. I used to be a very different type of gamer, of course, and this just brought something up in me again that I haven’t felt in a long time. The sense of wonder and awe at this very simple graphics, the way the music ties it all together, and that simple desire to go and explore… I’d forgotten how amazingly fun that can be.

    Thank you for this!

  13. Lewis says:

    That is an exceptionally clever indie game.

  14. Pemptus says:

    I might be a crybaby and a big girl, but this really moved me.

  15. Theory says:

    Erm, it was okay.

    COMBO BREAKER!

  16. Railick says:

    I loved Secret of Evermore

  17. Evan Travers says:

    That was fantastic. One of my fav flash games ever. Right up there next to canabalt.

  18. TCM says:

    That was an amazing, confusing, subtle, sublime, charming, beautiful 10 minutes.

  19. Tei says:

    I hate platformer… I used to hate platformers.. Now seems I love exploring,but I hate dyiing for no reason because stop exploration. This game is art :-)

  20. Railick says:

    I love Tei. Sometimes I read a comment without looking at who posted it first if I'm in a long stream of comments and I can always tell when I'm reading Tei's comment before I ever see his name :)

  21. Davee says:

    Beautiful. Such simple gameplay, held up by its low-fi-yet-beautiful graphics and music. Exellent atmosphere. Short and sweet :)

  22. Heliocentric says:

    This game is extremely pretty. The ending of the game bugged me though, like they pissed away all the splendour with a reflective ending.

  23. Arathain says:

    I think, given what we’d seen, that it was reasonable for the ending to be as it was.

  24. bhlaab says:

    It’s pretty and clever but I’m not sure I found any traces of narrative whatsoever unlike what other commentators have said

    • Jonas says:

      It depends what you understand by narrative, I suppose. It’s a pretty good example of embedded narrative, in that it’s there if you look for it, but it requires some interpretation and reflection to get anything meaningful out of it.

      Every world you went to seemed to have been destroyed in a different way, including the “hub” world. Especially the ice world had a lot of meaningful details- the underground bunker with the world map and the missile silos where most of the missiles were fired. The obvious reading to me is that it was a nuclear winter. Then there was the blue one that seemed to be a completely destroyed planet, the green one that I read as basically drowning in toxic waste, and the red one that took place inside a large dead creature.

      There’s room for interpretation, but to me, it all points pretty clear towards the end of the world.

      But maybe I’ve already thought about it too much.

    • Jonas says:

      Or maybe I just need to proof read my goddamn posts.

  25. Geo says:

    Jump jump jump fall fall fall.

    Wow, what a game.

    *falls asleep*

  26. Lugribossk says:

    Very evocative. No text or other characters and just low resolution pixels for visuals, and yet you get a clear feeling for a larger story and purpose. I wish more games would adopt this “less is more” approach!

  27. Nimic says:

    Too short, but very pretty all the same.

  28. Bret says:

    Never though atomic holocaust would be so beautiful.

  29. Taillefer says:

    It feels much more like Exile or Seiklus than Prince of Persia. It’s pretty and clever, pretty clever. I really expected the big picture at the end, though, to expand on the theme of the levels. The music is lovely.

  30. Alex777 says:

    I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be some sort of game? Where’s the strategy? Where’s the action? Where’s the competition? If there’s no possibility of defeat, why am I playing?

    Honestly, what’s so great about this “game”? I want my 10 minutes back.

  31. Bret says:

    The secret final boss, of course.

    • The Unbelievable Guy says:

      SPOILER ALERT:

      There actually was a final boss: the sun!
      Very clever, very pretty little game. Love the music.

  32. apa says:

    ascii graphics rule

  33. Στέλιος says:

    This was quite lovely. Had no bloody idea what I was doing, of course, but still.

  34. Vitamin Powered says:

    The atmosphere of this game was just wonderful.

    I also loved how the very chief mechanic of the game did away with the standard problem I always face in a platformer game; becoming completely lost two minutes into a level.

  35. Aubrey says:

    Damnit, I tweeted it first! I am the COOL KING.

    SOOOOOORENNNN!!!!!
    /me shakes fist

  36. PleasingFungus says:

    That was wonderful. Played it the other day, when a friend linked it to me. Was… very impressed, by the atmosphere and the exploration. (Though not by the controls, mind. Flippin’ jump.)

    Jonas: Thanks for the explanation of the plot! I completely missed that on my playthrough.

    Taillefer: But can you beat it on hard mode You get it by entering the Konami Code on the main menu. It turns off jumping! Try it now, pansies!

  37. smac says:

    Ah, c’mon – that was the sole point of the game; to tell a short, well-formed story.

    Hands up everyone who escaped.

    You sure about that?

  38. Heliocentric says:

    I think he escaped… Strictly speaking.

  39. smac says:

    Was supposed to be @bhlaab – noscript probably borked the Reply button.

  40. Heker says:

    Beauty, it seems, dose not need the high resolution most games would make us believe. I honestly played this game and was more inspired by a few thousand pixels than bye any scene I’ve come across in the cry engine. Truly art.

  41. coupsan says:

    It didn’t do anything for me, really. Unfortunate.

  42. Melf_Himself says:

    Argh, contrary to the others I found this to be quite shite. Guess I fail on the Bartle explorer test. The music was good but otherwise… meh. Not sure where Soren gets off comparing it to Prince of Persia!

  43. Adventurous Putty says:

    Erm, stupid question: I got to the two world portals at the bottom, but, um, where are the other ones? I believe there’s a red and a green one I’ve missed, from the comments.

    I feel intelligent. :D

  44. JB says:

    Moving, and pretty (without a big-budget engine, as noted above). I'm not sure it would be half as moving without music, mind you.

  45. Adventurous Putty says:

    Erm, nevermind. I fail at exploration.

  46. Wooly says:

    What a beautiful game. The music in the red world really moved me.

  47. JonFitt says:

    Very good. An atmosphere, of foreboding, loss, and wonder generated with a few pixels and music.

  48. Army of None says:

    Great game!

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