Smoke And Lasers: Fixation

By Adam Smith on April 2nd, 2012 at 2:05 pm.

She has extraordinary lung capacity

The Company of Myself combined clever puzzles, occasionally frustrating platforming and a sombre mood to pleasing effect. The prequel, Fixation, ditches the time clones of the original but keeps the melancholy, with similarly atmospheric music, and conversations bleak in their mundanity. Progress is made by indulging in the odd cigarette or fifty. In fact, judging by the amount of smoke pumped out of her face, the lady at the centre of the story might as well use her lungs as an ashtray. Smoke blocks lasers and activates switches, that sort of helpful thing, and is the only protection in a world of stress and anxiety. Play now over at Armor Games.

Despite its initial simplicity, Fixation’s world is an attractive creation, a maze of the ordinary made strange through distraction and dismay.

Given that I am actually trying to kick the habit myself at present, I’m thankful that there weren’t any hurdles as treacherous as some sections of The Company of Myself, which I almost didn’t finish when I reached a level and worked out exactly what needed to be done but struggled to do it for ages and ages. In the end, I asked someone competent to do it for me. I didn’t have to do that once in Fixation and I’m glad because, like the previous game, the ending is rather special.

Thanks to John Polson for the tip.

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4 Comments »

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  1. JackShandy says:

    Criminal lack of playtesting. No indication of when you can release smoke rings (Have they played any game that lets you hold a button to power up a shot?), puzzles are frustrating and you’re often at the highest risk of death after you’ve solved them, the levels rely on skilful smoke ring blowing over puzzle-solving (And, as I said, the smoke rings are an awkward mechanic).

    Clicking to belch masses of smoke is undeniably cool, and the melding of platformer tropes and awkward conversations is a solid base. Because this is the internet, I expect 2D array to make this game better and patch it immediately.

    EDIT: Wow, my comment looks really mean up here on it’s own. I think you’re great, 2D array, just be better next time.

    • Baines says:

      You have an indication of when you can release smoke rings, but it is taken away almost immediately.

      I can only figure it was taken away so that the player would concentrate on the game and not spend their time watching the gauge. If it had right mouse button support, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it would have just mapped clouds to one button and rings to the other.

      It wasn’t the smoke rings itself that bugged me, but rather the annoyance of having to repeat the entire room whenever you made a mistake. That gets really annoying when you know exactly what to do.

      • mazzratazz says:

        I agree with most things said here, I have to say I quit having almost finished chapter 2 (I think). Not wanting to have that gauge in screen to indicate the smoke rings is fine, but there are other ways to show the player when they’re going to blow a ring. Let the character glow for a split second, or give us some sort of sound cue. Feedback is crucial for good game design, and that’s certainly one of the things that most bothered me here.

        • Persus-9 says:

          I think the smoke ring mechanic was perfectly fine. It gave you one level with the gauge to explain the smoke ring mechanic and get a handle on the timing and then removed the gauge to give it the right feel. I think it was meant to be challenging and some of the levels definitely relied on it being a challenge. If there had been a gauge there or a timing flash as it would be in mainstream title then I’d have ended up playing the gauge not the game, I’d just have focused on the visual feedback to get the timing right rather than trying to do something rather more thoughtful in judging exactly how long I had to hold for a smoke ring. It made it feel much more like a real world task to me. The real world doesn’t supply gauges and fun games there often rely on similar timing judgments.