A Game With A Point – Flatland: Fallen Angle

By Alec Meer on February 27th, 2012 at 2:50 pm.

Pythagoras' Bastion

I have no idea if triangular noir-adventure Flatland: Fallen Angle was specifically inspired by 2011′s meme-tastic Bastion, but I do suspect we’re likely to see quite a few games that borrow its narrate-as-you-play mechanic over the next year or so. Flatland has that, albeit with a narrator who doesn’t exactly offer the same gravitas as Bastion’s Ruck, but it also has a guilt-wracked triangle on the run through a top-down, two-dimensional city, pursued by similarly pointy guards and in search of dark justice.

I tip every hat I have ever owned and ever will own to its title pun, too.

Made in just 96 hours (over the space of three weeks) it’s very much a shortform piece and suffers from a slightly wobbly combat mechanic (death seems to come suddenly and randomly, but the idea is you can only cause damage by hitting an enemy with one of your points), but it’s atmospheric, smart and does a great job of the unusual melange of simple line-art, breathless Pac Man-esque outrunning of foes and a doomy, nuanced narrative.

I really like the visual concept of the triangles splintering and fragmenting when they take damage too: it adds a real sense of desperation to the strange darting and spinning of the battles.

Entirely worth your time then, and your joining me in a hope that it can be expanded into something more fleshed out. It’s free, but there is a $1 ‘appreciation version‘ with dev commentary and an arena skirmish mode, should you wish to provide it with a digital hug.

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25 Comments »

  1. Lars Westergren says:

    >I have no idea if triangular noir-adventure Flatland: Fallen Angle was specifically inspired by 2011′s meme-tastic Bastion

    More likely 1884′s Flatland: A romance of many dimensions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/97

  2. NathanH says:

    I’d like this narration gimmick to mutate into sports-style commentary, complete with ex-gamer pundit stating the bleeding obvious and mispronouncing key character names. Similarly, I would like real foot-to-ball games to receive Bastion-style narration.

    • Llewyn says:

      I could definitely go for the Bastion style foot-to-ball commentary. “Kid just lies there and rolls around for a while.” Also, Slinger’s Song* to replace the Champions League theme.

      As so often before I’m impressed by the RPS commentariat. I read the title and came in here intending to make some smart allusion to Edwin Abbott only to find that literally** hundreds of you have already beaten me to it.

      *I think. Unless I’m getting the music in my head muddled up.
      **cf. Jamie Redknapp.

  3. Somerled says:

    Social uprising, Abbott style. I always wanted to see a Flatland realization.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I heard of Flatland years ago from a friend, but I never imagined it would ever be realised as a game. Definitely going to check this out.

      Edit: Interesting game. A bit awkward, though. I can’t count the number of times I was killed by over-enthusiastic allied equilaterals.

  4. Skabooga says:

    This reminds me of that one Victorian book that took place in a two-dimensional world. Ah, that too is called Flatland. Interesting concept to base video game on.

    Edit: Ninja’d. Also, Flatland could be seen as commentary on top-down two-dimensional games.

  5. 3lbFlax says:

    The combat mechanic is taken straight from Flatland, where the needle-like women pose the deadliest threat (and are obliged to use separate doors to minimize fatalities):

    If even the angle of a respectable Triangle in the middle class is not without its dangers; if to run against a Working Man involves a gash; if collision with an officer of the military class necessitates a serious wound; if a mere touch from the vertex of a Private Soldier brings with it danger of death; – what can it be to run against a Woman, except absolute and immediate destruction?

    • Inigo says:

      At least now I know why Anna Nevarre explodes.

    • Apples says:

      God. Damn. Is that seriously what her killphrase is named for? This is really embarrasssing, I read Flatland years ago and played Deus Ex last year (uh yeah, a bit late, I know) and I still had to read both your posts twice before I had what felt like an epiphany. This has actually blown my mind.

    • Urthman says:

      needle-like women pose the deadliest threat

      I’m so tired of video games perpetuating these unrealistically-skinny body images for women.

    • Skabooga says:

      @Inigo: My mind is blown up. (Much like Anna Navarre.)

    • gmcleod says:

      Holy crap! I never paid attention to her killphrase either, and I bought a copy of flatland after seeing that xkcd comic.

      Wasn’t there also a point that when a woman accidentally gets a point lodged in another person it can easily result in her death as well?

      I also like that by aligning themselves in certain ways, lines/women can effectively become invisible. Could Navarre cloak herself?

    • Tulpa says:

      HEY FOLKS

      You realize that Flatland is a scathing satire of Victorian mores, right? Why would this passage be remotely embarrassing? It’s expressly written as a critique of the way Victorians treated women. Keep in mind that the narrator was imprisoned for the crime of having an imagination.

  6. sinisterralphy says:

    “in the less temperate climates the whole male population of a village has been sometimes destroyed in one or two hours of simultaneous female outbreak”

  7. dogsolitude_uk says:

    Ahh… Flatland… I remember Carl Sagan describing Flatland, after Abbott’s book, in ‘Cosmos’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnURElCzGc0

    I must have read that bit over and over in the book as a kid, wondering what the fourth dimension was like…

  8. RSeldon says:

    Neat stuff. I never thought about what a good setting Flatland could make for a video game. I wish combat wasn’t so twitchy and “Poke — whoops, I’m dead again!”, but then those little polygons always did lead kind of precarious lives… and the sheer fact that somebody’s made an Edwin Abbot-inspired game kind of makes up for it. Will probably chuck a dollar in its direction just for that.

    Now what I really want is to see somebody make a first person Flatland game… ;)

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yeah, I love the concept, but playing it seems like a constant exercise in “no, I wanted to go THAT way” because touching stuff changes your direction and it’s hard to avoid touching or being touched by stuff. Even the walls end up being annoying.

      I could imagine the game changed in two directions. One way would be to make the controls easier, at least so that walls don’t “suck you in” when you touch them, perhaps if I’m pushing “w” then I should resist externally imposed changes in direction. Or maybe just make the “turning” stronger so it’s easier to pull away from walls. Admittedly, I didn’t get far enough in the game to know how that would change the rest of it.

      The other direction would be Newtonian physics–triangles with momentum skidding around bouncing off each other, maybe with friction. I mean, if it’s gonna be weird and annoying, might as well go all the way ;).

      EDIT: Oh, wait. Mouse control! Way easier! My post above only applies to the imaginary version of Flatland with only keyboard controls ;-)

  9. Saul says:

    “I tip every hat I have ever owned and ever will own to its title pun, too.”

    Thanks Alec! Does that include all your TF2 hats?

    Seriously, thanks for the coverage and praise – as a long-time subscriber, I couldn’t be more pleased to be up here!

    Thanks everyone else for the comments, too. We are well aware that the game isn’t perfect, and we’re definitely intending to develop the concept further.

    Also, I’m happy to answer questions, if anyone has any!

  10. Consumatopia says:

    Reminds me a little bit of Mirror Stage by increpare (but with no mirrors?). http://www.increpare.com/2009/03/mirror-stage-done/

    (Except in that game I guess you’re a line not a triangle. Which means you’re a flatlander woman? Been a long time since I played it, but that might make sense.)

  11. Jackablade says:

    Looks like See Through just got completely fucked over by their online payment host.
    http://seethroughstudios.com/2012/02/28/and-now-paymate-have-closed-out-account/

  12. iaguz says:

    Why do dead bodies and allies kill me?

    Bugger this game ><

  13. Stuart Walton says:

    Not to seem obtuse but how long is this game, is it a protracted affair?

  14. Ormus says:

    I developed a demo (since the 2010) of a game for the world of flatland

    http://mundodeplanilandia.blogspot.com.br/2011/01/fuentes-y-ejecutables-del-proyecto.html

    Is a project in stop, but I think in develope the full game

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