As If Parallax Didn’t Already Look Insane Enough…

By Nathan Grayson on March 23rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Hnrrrrrgghhhhhh what is happening herrrrre

Antichamber made way too much sense.”

Surely that’s the driving mandate behind Parallax. I can’t think of any other mindset – if, indeed, the otherworldly creatures that produced this thing even adhere to our primitive concept of “mind” – that’d bring us to this point. John spotlighted it last year and was already “a bit scared by how complicated this looks.” Continuing his train of thought, I am now terrified. Why? Because Toasty Games decided to turn off all the gravity.

Time for a not-quite-live blog of my experiences:

0:02 – Huh, what an interesting-looking place. Perhaps, in time, I will built a pleasant vacation cottage here.

0:08 – Wait, what.

0:18 – No, no, no, I don’t like what just happened there at all. Not how the ground works. F+

0:28 – WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAAAAAN?

0:46 – Sonic the Hedgehog!

0:56 – OK, you can stop doing that now.

1:21 – Up is down. Down is a watermelon.

1:27 – DON’T GO IN THERE.

1:28 – AWWWW, HE WENT IN THERE.

1:35 – I guess anti-gravity is pretty much the only flavor Oreos didn’t already have.

2:06 – Oh, I see what you did there. Except not at all because howwwww.

The “overlapping spatial dimensions” puzzle-platformer has no set release date, but it’s standing on Greenlight‘s ceiling right this very second, if you’re feeling generous. I’m looking quite forward to seeing more, though. Or at least, I think I am. What’s forward again? Also, who am I, and do brains belong on the inside or outside of heads?

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58 Comments »

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  1. TheBlackBandit says:

    Oh, f*** OFF. And I mean that in the most complimentary, impressed way.

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    • Ross Angus says:

      How shall we fuck off, oh lord?

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        On a single plane with a constant gravitational field, thank you very much.

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          Big Murray says:

          I’ve had it with this motherf**king gravitational field on this motherf**king plane.

  2. Convolvulus says:

    Prey had these mechanics.

    • Eclipse says:

      yep, Prey was pretty cool, it had both the gravity and the portal thing, and was a nice fps all around.
      Also you can’t do nothing but love a game that kicks in with “Don’t fear the reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult while you get abducted by aliens

      • sinister agent says:

        It’s a real shame that Prey undermined itself with its “no death, ever” system. It was one of the first games to do interesting things effectively with portals and gravity shifting tricks, and it had an original theme and setting too.

        I never got far into it. It just felt kind of meaningless, since it was impossible to fail and you could eventually win just by glowering at each enemy in turn until it died of old age. I’d like to give it another chance, see if I could get over it, but sadly my copy was stolen by some rampaging Hussites, or possibly by a bad housemate. I forget.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Prey also had vomiting anuses

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          If it’s an anus wouldn’t it be shit instead of vomit?

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Possibly, though in game I always felt I was more being vommed than shat on. They are two quite unique virtual experiences. I suppose it could have been alien diarrhoea

    • ArtyFishal says:

      Just wanted to chime in and say Prey rocks hard! Prey’s portals had the addition of not conserving size. Remember that awesome tiny world early on?

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      mrwonko says:

      Yeah, was about to mention Prey as well. That and Puzzle Dimension.

      • Baf says:

        I was about to mention Puzzle Dimension!

        And seriously, Antichamber really did make way too much sense. It seemed to think that teleporter gimmicks out of Wizardry 1 were fresh and interesting.

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    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    If you don’t come down from that ceiling this instant you’ll feel my stick tan your hide! You’ll walk along the floor like a civilised man, and it had better be the right floor, not some crazy alternate-dimension floor! I won’t stand for this nonsense and I will keep shouting and bristling my beard until you cease your non-Euclidean silliness!

  4. IshtarGate says:

    As someone who agrees with the sentiment that Antichamber made too much sense, I don’t really see what the big deal is with this one. Yes it’s abstract, doesn’t adhere to laws to physics, but there was seriously not one thing in that video that felt unpredictable to me. I expect a portal there, a portal was there. I expected the twisty part to be walkable, it was walkable. I don’t see why this stuff blows the minds of people who’ve played games all their lives. GAMES. GAMES where a plumber lobs fireballs at plant with teeth in his quest to rescue a princess from a giant monstrous turtle.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it all seemed very straightforward and predictable, and had about two mechanics: straighforward static portals, and gravity follows wherever your feet last touched.

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      LTK says:

      I concur. There are still many conventions that can easily be broken, such as: gravity pulls you downward, even when there is nothing underneath you, objects are always solid and unchangeable, objects and you are always located in one reality at a time and occupy only a single space, etcetera. There’s still a huge scope to be creative before your brain starts leaking out of your ears.

    • ArtyFishal says:

      Completely agree. The mechanics look very straight forward. If an abstract aesthetic causes your brain to lock up, I feel very sorry for you.

      Antichamber’s mechanics seemed much more creative than this. There still might be some fun puzzles here, though.

    • running fungus says:

      Yeah, the aesthetic pulled me in for the 30 second followup, but then the review destroyed whatever enthusiasm I might have mustered for this. My youngest nephew would consider this mind-bending for all of five seconds, until the self-evident rules became the new reality, and then it would be all about what you do with it – which I guess we’ll see in the next video. I’m not trying to be mean. I think the Super Mario analogy is right on.

    • The Random One says:

      I came here to say precisely this. Antichamber made way too much sense, and became a needlessly convoluted QUBE midway through. I rarely felt clever solving the puzzles, more like ‘huh, so that’s what I had to do then’. This game does appear nice, but I don’t think it’ll scratch any itches Antichamber failed to.

    • Jakisthe says:

      Pretty much. I keep seeing all these “omgz mindbending!” games which do little more than just have a super clean aesthetic, maybe some portals, and gravity changes. I haven’t been impressed with any of those mechanics since 2000. Heck, last game that had even remotely “mind bending” systems was Echochrome, and that’s what, like 7 years old now?

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Thank you for being the first person in this particular thread to actually name an example of what you mean.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Joining in the scorn. I was thinking ‘Iconic corridor walking: The game’ about half way through the vid. There’s a possibility of some decent puzzles here, but I would guess you would need:
      a) moving platforms
      b) switchable portals
      c) more than two planes of existence
      d) things to evade?
      e) occasional time constraints

  5. Meat Circus says:

    Antichamber didn’t make not-sense, because though space was non-euclidean and frequently dislocated, the disorientations were epiphenomenal, and the game stayed entirely consistent to its core concepts.

    If you really wish to disorient the player, you need to either make the core concepts inscrutable, or capriciously inconsistent.

    • ArtyFishal says:

      Your use of “epiphenomenal” is a greater puzzle to me than anything I found in Antichamber, and I’ve encountered the word before. What exactly do you mean by it?

    • Mr. Mister says:

      I’m starting to get a bit annoyed at people shouting “non-euclidean” at everything. What is trully non-euclidean are, for instance, Hyperroge and anything that tries to be relativistic.

      Antichamber was plainly euclidean, except it used portals, surprise teleports and overlaps, and I personally don’t think those suffice for the “non-euclidean” tag.

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        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Yet in a space contrived with portals it becomes possible for a line, straight at all points along its length, to cross itself. Does this not satisfy the requirement that the geometry is not subject to Euclidean constraints? At the very least it is somewhat suspect geometry, and I’ll have no truck with it.

        I’m not a smart-talking-guy, I just play one on the Internet.

  6. zappeo says:

    Bill Hicks once said something about The Beatles writing Yellow Submarine, that was:

    You know how ******’ high they were when they wrote that? They had to pull Ringo off the ceiling with a rake to sing that ******’ song. “John, get Ringo; he’s in the corner. What an..ooh! Look at him scoot! Grab him! Hook his bell bottom! Hook his bell bottom! He’s got a song he wants to sing us. Something about living in a ‘yellow tambourine’ or something. Ringo! Yoko’s gone! Come down, we can party again!”

    I believe in this case Yellow Submarine is Parallax and Ringo is everybody at ToastyGames.
    (of course I say this as a very, big compliment to TG)

  7. Jahkaivah says:

    This game bugs me, because I had an idea for a game a while back which I was planning on calling Parallax because it involved using Parallax Scrolling as a gameplay mechanic.

    It is one of the few game ideas I have had where coming up with a name for it was actually easy, and this game has gone and complicated matters for me if I ever get round to actually making it.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Coming up with names beforehand doesn’t work anyway. That’s probably one of the reasons so many devs use project names. Names are usually better when they pop up during development, writing or playing the game. It makes for names that actually fit the game and tend to be more original. Also if you start with the name there’s always the tendency to make the game fit the name, either consciously or subconsciously.

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    LTK says:

    It irks me how the word non-euclidean gets thrown around whenever a game starts doing strange things with space. The only game I know of that truly takes place in non-Euclidean space is Hyperrogue. Incidentally, it’s up to version 3 and includes more monsters and more biomes!

    Regardless of Antichamber’s tendency to move the player through wormholes, it still takes place in linear space. Rooms have four walls, a floor and a ceiling, and the whole game can be mapped onto Cartesian coordinates. It is just the same with Parallax. Adding some portals to an altogether different space to it changes nothing.

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    golem09 says:

    I don’t get the big deal about the ending. He jumped up those single platforms, and then just went back and jumped off the platform to where he started. Nothing mind boggling about that.

  10. Hoaxfish says:

    I like that they’ve put the axes (axises?) in the “skybox” so you still get an understanding of your orientation relative to the rest of everything.

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    Rikard Peterson says:

    I am the milkman. My milk is delicious.

    (Or, in other words, it doesn’t look that insane.)

    • Urthman says:

      Exactly. Psychonauts did most of this 8 years ago, and looked better doing it.

    • BennyGee says:

      Exactly what I thought, except the Milkman Conspiracy had a whole world built around it.

  12. KevinLew says:

    I’m surprised there’s so much negativity in the comments.

    To me, this game looks really interesting. I like how the entire game uses only two colors. There’s no shading, no lighting effects, and no post-processing and it still looks good. Remember how so many developers keep saying that graphical fidelity is the most important thing in video game design? Well, here’s a game which I would say proves that wrong.

    Also, since gravity isn’t tied down to a specific direction, then this could make some incredibly challenging puzzles. This video isn’t showing the puzzles; it’s showing off the new design change. If the game builds on these ideas, then it could be a very challenging game. Then again, I found Antichamber to be a surreal and amazing experience, whereas everybody else seems to think it was simple and pedestrian.

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      Rikard Peterson says:

      Much negativity in the comments? Where? Saying that other games have done similar things before isn’t negative. (At least if the people saying it fondly refer to those things.)

    • IshtarGate says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I loved Antichamber, it was a terrific and clever puzzle game, and I even liked its style. Parallax does *look* great visually, I like its style and the slickness of it, but honestly, there’s nothing interesting happening in that video.

      Just a guy walking around some abstract platforms, and for some reason that’s blowing some people’s mind. For contrast, look at Antichamber’s official trailer, which went out of its way to show the bizarreness of its puzzle style. Parallax needs to up its game, is all.

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      LTK says:

      It’s not that we’re slagging the games off for not being mind-bending enough, it’s just that their counter-realism is vastly overstated in most cases, which has little to do with their quality as puzzle games. That doesn’t change the fact that Antichamber is a uniquely challenging exploration-based puzzle game that forces you to think and observe in order to solve its puzzles, and it’s entirely possible that Parallax will be a great puzzle game as well – though I don’t think it’ll be as good as Antichamber. People just need to stop saying “Uhh, my brain hurts” at every occasion when a puzzle game mixes up the rules of physics a bit. Unless it’s Spacechem.

    • trinka00 says:

      i think what you’re seeing as negativity is just a reaction to the exaggeratedly tripping ballz way the piece was written in.
      i mean there’s really not anything that crazy going on, why that should matter, i don’t know.

      it’d be kind of like if u imagined Geraldo Rivera wearing one of those Occular VR headsets and playing some game and giving u a running commentary about how much it feels like he’s actually in the game world, not just playing it.

      i’m not ragging on the writer either, i actually like his style, but i think that just explains the negativity.

    • trinka00 says:

      plus also, u should keep in mind what site you’re reading comments on this story at.

      it’s a pretty cynical sample group, you know?

  13. Abendlaender says:

    This looks interesting but also somehow manages to not look interesting. Basically it was just walking down a straight path that bends which, I have to be honest, is not very impressive. Also I don’t care for the art style.

  14. crinkles esq. says:

    This doesn’t seem that confusing…gravity is just relative to whatever perpendicular plane you are currently standing on. The force of gravity acting upon you continues in that direction until you stand on a different plane.

    I didn’t really see the game part in this trailer. Looks nice though.

  15. Nikolaos says:

    Looks fascinating and I’ll definitely check it out on release but I’m not seeing what’s so confusing.

    With people apparently having their brains shutdown at the sight of anything more complicated than uniform flat surface and the constant complaints about first person platforming I’m left to wonder just how few people have any sense of spatial awareness.

  16. DickSocrates says:

    Yay for indies trying interesting things. However, I am not personally a fan of minimalism and these games that have “cool ideas with graphics one person could make” leave me cold. I’d love to explore this environment if it looked more interesting, more realistic. It’s why I have no interest in playing Antechamber either. The puzzle element isn’t enough to hook me, I want to be in the world created, not simply put up with it.

  17. ToastyGames says:

    Hi everyone,

    Developers of the game here! Thanks for all your feedback on our latest update! We would just like to point out that the video is not a trailer or even gameplay footage, but rather a test level to experiment with the gravity tiles. There is no puzzle element at all in the video. It is literally – as some of you pointed out – some guy walking around. It’s great to see that there are many players who are not thoroughly confused by this mechanic. We will try our best to make the game challenging for players like you too. =)

    Thanks for your continued support!
    – Team Toasty

  18. kiamli says:

    Now imagine this with the oculus rift.

  19. czerro says:

    I’m a little surprised as to how everyone is receiving this video, which is little more than a tech demo. It demonstrates a portal/dimension mechanic, a gravity mechanic, and the visual aesthetic. From what I see it looks to have all the elements to make an interesting puzzler. The best puzzlers have the simplest mechanics that allow for complex puzzle systems. From FPS’s like Portal to simple things like Sudoku. Despite the mechanics being straightforward, things can get very complex. Chess is one of the deepest strategy games known to man, even though the mechanics are simple and can be explained in seconds. We’ll see if the developer can pull something off. I personally like the aesthetic, though I can see how it could quickly become murder on the eyes over the course of gameplay.

    • Josh W says:

      I love the idea of falling through the same half loop of portal from different directions, allowing the possible paths to go directly in line with one another without being accessible from each other.