First-Person Platformer-er: Atum

By Nathan Grayson on October 26th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

I foresee this leading to a very interesting conversation with some firemen.

Atum is a game in which you play as someone who’s playing a 2D platformer. It is, however, by most standards not a particularly good platformer, as it requires that you be a habitual smoker to beat it. That’s what makes Atum so neat, though: objects inside the main character’s exceedingly white (and literary) apartment influence what unfolds on the screen within a screen. Need to get past a security camera? Just use your cigarette to create a smokescreen. Can’t see in the dark? Hold your lighter frighteningly close to your very expensive-looking computer monitor. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s well worth a look, I think – in spite of some clunk in its trunk.

I suppose my main issue is that, while the “real”/virtual world interaction gimmick is striking, it ends up becoming tedious fairly quickly. Magnets and smoke, especially, are very finicky, and I found myself picking items up, putting them down, and picking them back up again far more often than I’d have liked. Sure, it’s definitely a little thing, but it made me realize that turning my in-game abilities into “real” world objects almost hurt the experience more than it helped.

Moreover, most of the puzzles weren’t particularly interesting – more teaching me the basic mechanics than actually leveraging them. But then, Atum’s a relatively short game, so that’s sort of unavoidable. I’d love to see this idea expanded outside its current, relatively confining box, though. Not literally, of course. Then it’d be a game in which you play as someone who’s playing as someone who’s playing a 2D platformer. And that’s just enough meta-levels to make me start asking unsettling existential questions. In other words: too many.

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13 Comments »

  1. 1Life0Continues says:

    That was interesting. Also, hurt my brain just a little bit, with the whole end bit…

    The controls could certainly do with some polishing, but the idea is awesome and if I were to look at it in a metaphorical way, is perhaps a message about the blurring of the lines between reality and gaming? Maybe? Or am I looking into this way too much? Probably that last one.

    I had fun, although a way to back out of a certain section would be nice, but I suppose that would have been too easy.

  2. phelix says:

    I can see one of ‘em big American broadcasters taking this up as proof that videogames encourage smoking.

  3. Kamikaze_Tutor says:

    You got to love that they probably took time to make up a name that sound like it had deep meanings but then end up calling their game Tuna on other countries.

    • The Random One says:

      I’m Brazilian and I agree with that message.

      So is it time for fishing and sea life puns already? Though I guess it isn’t exactly a reel great hook.

  4. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    RPS should hire Rab, now that he’s available.

  5. Roz says:

    Lets hope this doesn’t go up in smoke.

  6. PopeJamal says:

    Because of the headline, i was under the impression that this was the worst type of game in the universe: first person with 3D jumping puzzles. Fortunately that is not the case.

    • Dilapinated says:

      I think that’s a bit harsh. Mirror’s Edge, while divisive and flawed, was still an excellent game that showed that first person platforming puzzles can be achieved.

      • The Random One says:

        Yes, as long as you can see your feet and judging distances isn’t as important as judging direction, and also you don’t get motion sickness.

  7. sirdavies says:

    I felt like I was close to the end when I got crushed by a closing door and the game started going all crazy, so I stopped playing it. It’s okay though, I was starting to have a bit of a headache. Nice experiment, doesn’t work.