Multi-Platform: A Tale By Alex

By John Walker on October 17th, 2011 at 2:31 pm.

Not really a game well shown by our usual letterbox image.

Wow, games are great. Take for instance A Tale By Alex. The game by new indie team Digital Dreams, it’s a side-scrolling platformer played on three separated levels… simultaneously. Because each is a version of a kid, Alex’s, imagination.

It’s an amazingly cute idea, the two higher strips showing a reimagining of the real-world interior Alex is playing in. Jump over a table at the bottom, and it’s a grassy mound. Run past your pet tortoise and it’s a giant, biting monster that must be attacked. An elastic band flung in your front room is a range weapon for Alex the Knight.

This is mostly in your own imagination, of course, as the game is presented in a small window in teeny pixels. But the idea remains brilliant. The game, well it’s fine. I think, if anything, it hinders itself by its own design choices. Such a magnificent concept perhaps deserves to be more comprehensively explored than in the hurried confusion of a perma-scrolling distance challenge. That’s not to say it doesn’t work in its current form. The Canabalt-like (although a fraction as slow, and much more involved) need to replay to get further is present, and it’s different each time to ensure you don’t just learn the jumps. But it’s certainly the concept that makes the game shine, rather than anything intrinsically about the platforming.

There are other cute ideas in there – the narration especially, with weapon noises voiced by a child and the like. Have a trailer. Oh, and don’t worry, there isn’t nearly that much of the chatter when you play.

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14 Comments »

  1. danimalkingdom says:

    What a neat idea. I don’t really understand why you need to see three screens though- surely two, one RL and the other in an imaginary version would be enough. You could even switch the palette in the imaginary screen, e.g. from lava to tundra etc.

    There are all kinds of ways the devs could take this, and using a constantly-scrolling level probably hamstrings any decent attempt to explore it further. But nevertheless hats off to them. I would be intrigued to see this concept put into a 3D game.

  2. circadianwolf says:

    So, shades of What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed?

  3. Spooner says:

    I enjoyed trying the game, but I also found that the central transitional version seemed superfluous and just forced your eye to move around too much. Still, an interesting exploration of what is possible with multiple versions of reality; just wish there were 2 versions for my simple ape brain to comprehend at once!

    Elsewhere, people have complained about the child’s voice, but I found it worked well. That said, the repeated saying of Kerching! when you pick something up should have been a simple sound effect. It seemed out of place as a spoken message.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Not to me. To me it just sounds like a kid telling a story to his friends or a smaller sibling. Ka-ching!

  4. myaltisa says:

    Subtle reference, I now have another side scrollers tune in my head

  5. Baines says:

    Three screens is too much to watch.

    Once the other screens become active, I end up ignoring the bottom screen, and concentrating on the top two screens.

    Then I end up concentrating on the top screen because it has the most danger (and otherwise the two are almost identical), and dying in the middle screen because some enemy has ended up out of sync.

  6. pipman3000 says:

    The game is pretty fun until you reach the point where enemies can damage you on the bottom screen, the game gets really frightening around the part. The game scared me so much but I kept playing even though the graphics were glitching out and the music started to sound like sobbing. I think my version might be haunted.

  7. Dozer says:

    Once again my failure to distinguish between ‘Alex’ and ‘Alec’ misleads me. I thought this was an announcement that another RPS writer was branching into games development.

  8. keithburgun says:

    Puzzle platformer? Puzzle platformer.

  9. KoenigNord says:

    I am somehow lost, too much multi tasking

  10. Niche93 says:

    Very nice. I especially liked the narrator.

    If you wanna try more multi-screen-scrolling action, the ever amazing eyezmaze has this to offer: http://www.eyezmaze.com/eyezblog_en/blog/2008/08/tontoko_family.html

  11. bill says:

    The idea somehow gives me horrible flashbacks of “Do as I say but not as I do” in VVVVV…. the point at which i abandoned that game.