I first saw Containment Protocol at Rezzed this year when the large banner showcasing its simplistic, beautiful art style immediately caught my eye. It’s difficult to describe in ordinary genre terms, but it’s close to a survival/exploration game. You remotely control a quad copter exploring an abandoned scientific facility, only able to see via its lidar scanning the surroundings. It’s atmospheric to the max–sounds echoing in empty corridors, clinical beeping coming from the automated defenses of the facility. You can explore too, as solo dev Byron Atkinson-Jones has dropped a new in-browser demo on its site (the build he’ll show at EGX, in fact).
This demo seems a little easier than the Rezzed one, where movement was slower and enemies more dangerous. It’s a good change, as very few on the show floor managed to complete it, but the lethality and slow pace were very in tune with the tone of the game. Detection and failure brought the ire of the voice-over, which Byron told me was deliberately antagonistic – a commanding officer, not a friend. The greater accessibility is better overall, particularly in free demos and earlier sections of the game, but hopefully some of that brutality will remain in the full version.
The wider story is a military conspiracy, told through the interactions between employees in the facility and their interoffice politics, bullying and rivalries. He does a remarkable job of displaying both vital information for the continuation of the plot and non-essential tidbits without compromising the simplicity of the UI. Equally challenging is how it balances conveying quite complex game mechanics quickly and effectively without muddying that interface. I’m really interested to see how much further it can go.
There’s no word on a release date, though at this point 2015 seems most likely. Here’s the latest trailer, from the Steam Greenlight page: