By John Walker on February 29th, 2012 at 2:28 pm.
What can I do to convince you to play 1000 Amps? The unenigmatic screenshots of black and white levels made of dull tiles are not going to do it. That you’ve never heard of it, nor its developer, Brandon Brizzi’s The Odd Man Out, means you’ve no previous attachment or interest. And if I describe it to you, I still fear it won’t convince you. I’ll have to think of something.
Here’s my go at describing it: The game is made up of a huge number of rooms, dozens and dozens, each of which is dark when you first enter. Moving your little roboty-thing guy around illuminates tiles you touch, revealing their nature. Your goal is to find and touch all the specific ‘light’ tiles in a room without leaving it (which is easily done when you can’t see where you’re going).
With each light tile switched on in a room, you gain the ability to jump slightly higher, and that’s obviously crucial to solving so many of the puzzles. Each new area resets you back to your tiny bounce, and when complete lets you leap hugely. The deeper you get, the more new tiles appear, the more the challenge ramps up, and the more insanely satisfying completing each room becomes. This is tough, and constantly demands imaginative, innovative thinking. And I love it.
Pretty soon you gain the ability to teleport, which rather dramatically changes how you can approach the rooms. So long as there’s at least one light lit, you can move yourself to any blank tile on the screen, at a cost of the illumination of the tiles around you. If one of those tiles is a light, the light goes off too, which means you need to be careful how and where you make the jumps. Then there are tiles that slide back and forth to ride, those that disappear after you stand on them, some that drag you along in their current… Then meanest of all, there are occasionally baddie square things that fly around, switching off lights you’ve switched on. I hate them. I curse every level they’re in. And I never feel better than when I complete a room and defeat them.
The rooms are joined together through interconnecting tiles, but you can only see one at a time, and only a small proportion of the huge overall area on the game’s map. Leaving a room that’s incomplete undoes any good work you’ve done in there, and often times that’s half the puzzle, figuring out how to not fall/walk/jump into another area as you progress. If there’s a mistake it makes, it’s a failure to explain that some rooms can’t be completed at the point you reach them. Only a couple for me so far (I’ve been playing for so long, and am not even halfway through it), but it makes you wonder what you’re doing wrong, rather than know to come back to it later. But that’s it – that’s my only complaint here. This is one of the finest puzzle games I’ve ever played.
See – I’ve done a splendid job describing the structure of the game, but I still don’t feel like I’ve convinced you to play it. I need something else…
Maybe a video?
What about that it costs only £3.60 on Steam – barely more than a pint? For a game that lasts an incredibly long time, that’s a really decent deal.
A demo? Will that do it?
Not yet? I know why this one matters to me so much. It’s because it’s been out a week already, and I’ve not seen much discussion of it. It’s a genuinely brilliant game, and it would be a ludicrous shame if it were to slip under the radar. The great thing about my job is that I can stumble upon a game on the new releases list on Steam, adore it, and then champion it as loudly as possible. So I will.
But if that’s not enough for you… how about some cosplay?
Can you see the lengths I’m going to here? I really want you to play this. It’s such a smart, enormous game, often enormously difficult, but get stuck and there are always another dozen rooms you can try. I’m nowhere near the end of it, barely halfway, but I’ve already had enough enjoyment to be this enthused.
It’s witty in its minimalist design, its use of sound cues is exemplary, the jumping is pixel perfect, and the ability to put a smile on my face with every single completed room is a joyous thing. Just watching it light up, and knowing those lights will stay on, is accomplishment squared. The animation, as slight as it may be, is exactly right. What do I need to do? Beg? I will.
1000 Amps is out on Steam now.