By John Walker on November 12th, 2013 at 8:00 am.
A thing I’ve noticed about trailers is they very rarely show you the player failing. You can see why – a game wants to show itself as this vivid, exciting time, where you will endlessly succeed. But it certainly proves refreshing to see a game showing failure, as is evident in the trailer for elaborate first-person, gravity-themed puzzle game Attractio. And if you want to experience these failures for yourself, there’s a demo available.
Attractio makes the odd decision to present itself as a gameshow. Contestants are on what looks like a very damaged space station orbiting Mars, on which the conditions are perfect for altering gravity. You play as three different contestants, each with unique skills and equipment, each tackling their own set of puzzle rooms.
There’s an awful lot going on here, and a great deal of physics on display. The catch is, you have to sit through the tortuous gameshow elements to get to them. At the moment, this means listening to a very awkward and amateur voice burbling unenigmatically, rather than just getting on with playing the puzzles. Clearly inspired by Portal, there’s obviously been the thought that they needed to justify their challenges with some notion of narrative. At first impression, I think it would be a lot better if it were just the puzzles alone. It certainly doesn’t help that this “host” not only babbles at you throughout the tutorial levels, but the game also wrests control away from you each and every time. It’s an easy mistake to make, but when I’m in a first-person game, I need to stay in the first-person for instructions to be meaningful. Having the camera leap to a place I didn’t walk to, at an angle I can’t reach, and not letting me just experiment for myself, is problematic.
Of course, this is just a demo at this stage, and the game is very much in development. It’s also on Greenlight, looking for support, and seems worth a Yes vote.
There’s a ton of potential here – the concept isn’t stunningly original, but the desire to explore physics-led first-person puzzles to a greater depth is a welcome one. I hope they can streamline it some more, and desperately hope they can lose the amateurish opening, and let the puzzles shine.