Onwards Is Upwards: Against The Wall

By Adam Smith on December 5th, 2011 at 1:15 pm.

Windmills make any settlement 43 times more likely to be screengrabbed

I’ve only played a very early version of Against The Wall, which presents an environment so empty that it’s little more than a proof of concept, but it almost immediately wormed its way inside my head and it’s now near the top of the massive list of things that I’m excited about and will furiously attempt to keep track of. It has a brilliant, somewhat Borgesian premise that it’s hard to imagine in terms of exploration and navigation until you play it.

This world is an infinite vertical surface composed of irregularly-sized white bricks. Entire civilizations and ecosystems cling for survival on the side of The Wall, everyone and everything existing under the constant threat of tumbling into the endless sky.

Doesn’t that sound absolutely fascinating? There’s a short trailer tumbling in the endless space below and you can download the alpha here.

The shape of the world may be a stroke of mad brilliance but thankfully developer Michael P. Consoli isn’t entirely mad. He’s also a clever sort, as evidenced by the thought that has gone into designing a game around the idea of an entirely vertical environment.

Instead of just falling off forever, the player has the ability to pull out sections of wall simply by gesturing toward them. The bricks that make it up vary in size and it’s always possible to create platforms to travel to a point where steps can be formed. This is useful because the goal is to travel ever upwards, back to the home from which you have presumably plummeted.

The finished game should have plenty of environments to discover during the journey, whereas the alpha only has a couple of things to see, but the potential for greatness is certainly there. If you do try the alpha, and you should, make sure to fall at least once, if only to see just how endless that sky is.

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47 Comments »

  1. CMaster says:

    The perfectly normal trees growing sideways put me in the mind of this

    I’d like to see more of these unique ecosystems etc.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      …….annnnd I was just about to post that somewhat sad video.

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      Gramarye says:

      To be honest, I would rather the trees were curved and twisted up, just as if they were growing on a wall. I do understand that the modeling system and possibly puzzles (do you walk on these trees?) may prevent this.

      It looks fascinating however it turns out. I’m looking forward to this.

    • rclesham says:

      Wow I remember seeing that years ago – it’s up to 31 million views!

  2. ShaunCG says:

    Sounds reminiscent of the Adam Roberts novel On:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_(novel)

    Except with the infinite aspect of something like Farmer’s Riverworld or Di Filippo’s Linear City.

    I’m curious about where they take this setting. I hope the gameplay and narrative will be suitably mind-bending!

  3. pimterry says:

    See also, the book On, by Adam Roberts: a book about people living in a world just like that, and occasionally falling off.

  4. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    It keeps saying checkpoint reached, but doesn’t seem to be able to save.

    It looks and feels beautiful. I love windy environments in games. easy to conjure up and very atmospheric effect. see also: NightSky.

  5. Untruth says:

    The concept very much harks in the direction of the perpetual-need-for-survival in Inverted World. Very cool.

  6. The Tupper says:

    I’ve only played it for ten minutes but that is really nice. Am still falling…

    Addition: I really like the doppler effect as blocks I’d hoped would arrest my descent sweep by just out of reach.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    very nice

  8. Dana says:

    So what kind of game is this ? Puzzle platformer ? Adventure game ? Survival sandbox ?

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      phlebas says:

      Maybe.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Yes! I’d call it an adventure but it has elements of all sorts. The actual ascent has puzzle elements and the finished game may well contain scripted segments that develop that further. But it has the feel of an adventure, with its emphasis on exploration.

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      phlebas says:

      The video suggests a hyperreality akin to Myst or Ico, something a bit puzzly but with the main focus on exploration, discovery and delivering an interesting and beautiful world.

  9. Mikko-Pentti Einari Eronen says:

    Vertical MMO could be interesting. To see as a newbie how those max geared/leveled people fall down.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      How about an FPS where every player is perpetually falling until death?

      It could be played to Propane Nightmares as every shot will be a skilled air shot!

    • Berzee says:

      A vertical MMO would be especially good if you could loot the body of anyone who fell to their death…

      and on the PvP servers, falling on someone would hurt them as much as it hurts you. =P

    • Apples says:

      Tangentially related: I’d like to see an FPS that is the game from Ender’s Game, where they’re in that weightless sphere. Can’t remember much of the book but I think that would be amazing, if disorientating, and easy to make. Maybe it has already been made and I don’t know about it?

    • Solidstate89 says:

      @ Apples

      Ask and ye shall receive.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shattered_Horizon

  10. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Sounds like they are making a game around one of Super Mario 64′s central features. This calls for Jetpacks.

  11. CaspianRoach says:

    This reminded me oddly of Dark Messiah of M&M. Huh.

    • rei says:

      Me too, now that you mention it.. I have a fear of heights so that mountainside abode section made an impression on me. Also Mirror’s Edge a bit, what with all the sunshine and blue skies and white.

  12. Inigo says:

    I got to the part with the empty village.
    Then I turned around and suddenly I didn’t want to play anymore.

  13. matthias_zarzecki says:

    Good to see games from the Ludum Dare contest get continued after the inital prototype :-)

    -Matthew

  14. JackShandy says:

    This is really good. First thing I did was throw the scarecrow you spawn next to off the edge, then jump down after it. We both fell forever. I quickly outpaced it, then made a platform to land on and watched it plummet by. Amazing.

  15. Hoaxfish says:

    I got to the 1st windmill, then promptly extended the wrong block, shoving me into oblivion… not really my thing

  16. JackDandy says:

    This sounds fascinating. The idea of the game’s world is especially interesting.

    Might throw some dosh at the kickstarter thing. Thanks for letting us know about this!

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    Love this idea. Reminds me of Terraria crossed with Myst (in-a-good-way).

    It needs two things immediately: Less friction on the side of blocks and more friction on the top of them. Also, the protagonist should be able to jump up and haul him/herself up the side of slightly-higher-than-waist-high heights. (Or the largest block size should be reduced.) Once the physics are better tweaked it could easily become the New Awesomest Indie Game of the moment.

  18. Urthman says:

    I love everything about this — the concept, the exploration / puzzle based gameplay, and especially the look of the world. Beautiful!

  19. rei says:

    You can actually die in this!

    Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  20. Prince says:

    Oh yes, looking very good indeed. I’m hoping verticality will become the next big thing in gaming. Traversing impossible structures happens far too seldomly in today’s po-faced, realistic gaming landscape. Next up – Rainbow Islands 3d!

  21. Bfox says:

    Is that a golden ring he’s holding in the video?

    Are you playing as Sonic the Hedgehog?

  22. The Army of None says:

    Played through the alpha, and it was amazing! I can see so much potential here!

  23. Shazbut says:

    Please, please be an adventure and not a shooter or puzzler

  24. Buttless Boy says:

    So it’s an exploration-based game set in a surreal world with slight puzzle and platforming elements?

    I’m trying to think of words to convey my excitement, but most of them are just vivid descriptions of body fluids sticking to things and nobody wants to hear about that.

  25. terry says:

    This is really, really good. The ambience is quite something, and when you fall it reminds me of a childhood nightmare. I haven’t finished it but certainly intend to.

  26. feighnt says:

    as far as i’m aware, that’s the end, but… hard to say.

    i did climb higher. i got onto the roof of that alcove (nothing there), then climbed a bit higher than the trees, but saw nothing apparent.

    i… had a hideous thought, however. what if you need to carry the first cape to the second cape, and then something will happen? : (

    that would be just… too fiddly for me -_-;

  27. Zerrick says:

    Traversing the wall becomes rather fluent after you learn how high you can jump. Too bad that it still takes quite a while to get where you want to be due to all the clicking required. It would be wonderful to have more settlements or objects scattered to travel to. And a grapple gun!
    It also gave me a couple of good scares. Really well done.
    Note: the Portal 2 soundtrack fits this game like earmuffs.

  28. RagingLion says:

    This is all seems so very exciting. I love it. True shineyness.

  29. Josh W says:

    This game passes the tetris test; if you can close your eyes after having just played at and realise that your still planning out moves for the game and working out how it works, then there’s probably quite a bit of potential in the game.