Oliver And Spike Make Dimension-Flipping Interesting Again

By Nathan Grayson on January 29th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

PHWOOOORMMMMMM.

Dimension-shifting’s one of those game mechanics that’s been around for ages in some form or another, but has really become A Thing in recent times. Quantum Conundrum‘s the biggest name, but countless indie puzzle-platformers have taken bold, rapid-fire strides into the unknown, because why not? Multiple sets of entirely different rules? Sounds like a puzzle designer’s paradise to me. So I can’t entirely blame you if you’re feeling a bit fatigued by the concept. But, if nothing else, Oliver and Spike looks quite striking when, for instance, the entire, semi-open world level goes from dizzying, arid peaks to undersea wonderland. And there’s a puppy! I hope he gets his own dimension. Switch to the after-the-break dimension to see it in action.

So that was brief, but it gives you a decent idea of the potential underlying this one. And yes, it’s completely gorgeous. Meanwhile, further explanation of the dimensional-flip-floppery hints at a Biblical flood of depth – and not just, er, water – in later levels.

“Later in the game, Dimensions and their rules are not as simple as just jumping higher, double jump, or being able to swim, oh no. We have quite complex challenges and rules ready for you, and the Dimensions you are going to visit are going to be much more creative and tricky.”

Thus far, named dimensions include Aqual, Tera, and Firma, but less overtly obvious (and still currently non-detailed) options like Nefaris, Nifris, Tox, Treacle, Turvy, and Tint will occupy later clusters. From the sound of things, they come packaged in groups of three, so dimensional interplay will probably be pretty key in puzzle-solving.

Potentially even more promising, meanwhile, are the non-puzzle-focused elements going into each dimension. Characters, cultures, and personalities will all be unique depending on whether an area’s water-logged, tree-logged, or (hopefully) dog-logged, so it won’t just be a matter of plotting out the quickest course from point A to point B.

It’s looking quite nice in a candy coated “just far enough outside-the-box” kind of way. That said, I’m still wary of a few elements developer Rock Pocket plans to include (dear everyone, QTEs are horrible and responsible for all the world’s sadness except in Asura’s Wrath), so I’ll be watching from a high-walled, steel-reinforced dimension of cautiousness. And puppies. OK, mostly puppies. (They make better shields than you’d think.)

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18 Comments »

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  1. f1x says:

    Looks superb, not sure how the dimension thing is really gonna play out but looks interesting

    What got me thinking, why nobody did a game like Super Mario Galaxy (1&2) for PC? it would control perfectly with mouse + keyb

    • Nevard says:

      While I hate to start yet another control scheme argument, I feel like joysticks are far more suited to 3D platform movement than a binary four direction buttons could ever be.

      • f1x says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of gamepads, and use them always that is possible and in games that don’t require too much aiming or camera moving

        But I have a painful experience from playing Super mario galaxy on the Wii and I wonder if that sort of game wouldn’t be awesome on the PC, because the game is superb, and keyb+mouse or gamepad would work better than freaking motion control crap

        • Nevard says:

          It’s been some months since I played galaxy but I swear the motion and camera in that game were from control sticks, the only motion control was the occasional hand-wiggle to make him spin

    • alison_brie says:

      just as Anthony responded I’m taken by surprise that any body can make $4546 in four weeks on the computer. did you read this link… http://www.slideshare.com.qr.net/j62T

  2. Caiman says:

    Stylish and slick. The musical cues really add to it, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was deliberately edited to synchronise with the trailer action. But anyway, it looks like much thought has gone into it, even the camera looks ideal for third-person jumping. But that shift effect, I love it. With puppy-centric puzzles, this could be winner,

  3. sabrage says:

    On the one hand, it’s a 3-D platformer with an interesting concept. On the other hand, the whole damn game is a water level.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I like water levels. Endless Ocean was entirely a water level and it was pretty cool.

    • Lemming says:

      Water levels are fine as long as your character swims more like a fish than a three-legged dog.

      Water areas in Darksiders 2 = YAY!

      Water areas in Ocarina of Time = BOO!

      Personally I’m more concerned with Desert levels in platformers. Try to think of a desert level in a 3D Mario game that wasn’t an utter pain in the arse. I still have nightmares about getting into the pyramid on Mario 64 and the Sand Bird in Mario Sunshine.

    • The Random One says:

      A water level is a level in which the rules of the game are changed in such a way that your previous experience playing the game is render useless or almost useless, and replaced by rules too hard to be a nice change of pace. We call it a water level because water levels change the physics and often have a drowing timer, so levels in which there is water are a good example of water levels. But not every level that has water is a water level, and not every water level is filled with water.

      Super Mario World and its followers had levels in water, but the rules of the game rarely changed and Mario could float anywhere anyway, so they were not water levels. Aquaria was entirely underwater, but because your character is a fish person she can go anywhere easily; the places where there was no water were where your movement was restricted, so the water levels in Aquaria were the levels with no water.

  4. Tei says:

    I think this type of games are less about the gimmick, and much more about how the puzzles are made, and the “lore”. If the story is entertaining and the puzzles are good, you get a good game.

  5. Lemming says:

    Bit more on the game here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lHmzDV1rxII#!

    Which is made in Unity btw, so can all those who usually claim ‘unity, ugh can’t make triple A in unity’ shut up now please?

    • pupsikaso says:

      Problem with Unity isn’t that it’s not capable of “AAA” style graphical fidelity, no the problem is that unity is attractive to the kinds of teams that cannot afford that kind of art and animation.

  6. derella says:

    I usually hate platformers of all kinds, and was prepared to ignore this… But it actually looks really cool. I’m excited to see more.

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  8. pupsikaso says:

    My beef with these kinds of games is that they never try to really do anything either interesting or challenging with the mechanic. Instead they rely on the mechanic’s existence to sell the game. “Oh look! Press button and things change colours!”
    And all you get is puzzles where the obvious solution is to press the button to switch dimensions, pass the obstacle in the othe dimension, then press button to return. That’s about it.

    Now you know what game got dimension swapping nailed? Soul Reaver. Remember that game? Back in the late 90s? You could change dimensions there, too, and it had smart puzzles around the idea, long before all these useless me-too’s started springing up like mushrooms after a rain.

  9. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Hmm. Could be interesting. Could be really dull.

  10. The Random One says:

    Oliver, Spike and everything nice.

    It’s an interesting approach to the mechanic, the one I was thinking Quantum Conondrum would take. I’ll keep this in my radar.