Retro-Goth: Au Sable

This one-man-made indie platformer sports an unusually sinister style for something so lo-fi. Whilst I couldn’t say I personally experienced any moments of profundity from its messages of doomy gibber and images of mutilation, I was impressed by just how much tone and dark atmosphere it’s possible to evoke from so few colours and pixels. The all-black backgrounds are affectingly unsettling, while some of the monsters remind me of the shadow beasts of Another World. Awkward combat controls (though I appreciate they’re intended to reflect the frail heroine’s unfamiliarity with weapons) and some frustrating level design mean it’s not yet the slick, Castlevaniaesque thing I suspect it hopes to be, but it’s chock full of agreeably strange and inventive imagery. There’s a walkthrough video below if you don’t fancy a spot of gothic jumping’n’shooting yourself….

Someone needs a hug. Though creator Amon26 observes over on the TIGsource forums that this kind of ‘ugly-work’ is something like catharsis for him, and we can expect something lighter from his future projects. In fact, he’s also got a prototype of the next one, Transparent Feint, doing the rounds, though I’ve not had a chance to fire that one up yet. Sounds like it includes spaceships rather than floating eyeballs and dogs of death, though.

Download all 9Mb of Au Sable here, and follow his updates about it here.

14 Comments

  1. Dominic White says:

    I preferred his previous game, All Of Our Friends Are Dead. It was more discordant, with deliberately glitchy animations that make you feel like your PC is starting to melt down. Bursts of static, flickering graphics and flashes of terrible violence made it work.

    This one is a little overlong, and the atmosphere isn’t quite as dense.

    Neither game are really meant to ‘mean’ anything, as far as I can gather. It’s just an experiment in unsettling atmosphere using a simple engine and very lo-fi graphics.

    • Bhazor says:

      I was surprised Alec did nay link to the original All Our Friends Are Dead article.

      I still say the closing lines are an Emilie Autumn song from an alternate dimension.
      It does go pretty well read like Leeches link to youtube.com
      “En ruin twist and tumble
      Forget the smell of home
      No soil beneath our footsteps
      No marrow in the bones
      Listen at us will you?
      Share with us your head
      Do hide behind the iris
      As all of our friends are dead.”

      Catchy ‘ey?

  2. A-Scale says:

    I wonder if the guy who made the game is from Michigan (home of the Au Sable river).

    • yutt says:

      I grew up near the Au Sable River (Mio)… bizarre that someone on such a niche site would have also heard of it.

    • A-Scale says:

      I’m from Dearborn. I fished the Au Sable once and didn’t catch a cold. Nice area though.

      Also, if I recall correctly, Gates Au Sable lodge is a rip off.

  3. Dominic White says:

    You can get All Of Our Friends Are Dead here:
    link to willhostforfood.com

    The first game the guy ever made, apparently.

  4. Hybrid says:

    The atmosphere is great in the beginning, but then gets bogged down in a few level design / control problems. The jumping bit at the very bottom of the tower with the tree in it could use a design tweak. Missing that jump countless times and falling into the pit is very frustrating, and even more so when it’s not clear why. I also wasn’t 100% sure when the enemies were going to attack, and pretty much relied on luck most of the time. However, I enjoyed the experience, and only wish it was a more polished, concise package, instead of being artificially long due to controls/levels/uncertain AI.

  5. Wooly says:

    Really liked All Of Our Friends Are Dead even though it didn’t make a bit of sense. AuSable’s quite good too– another fun atmosphere-’em-up.

  6. Personoic says:

    At first I was like wtf, but then I was like DIE DIE DIE DIE! Hooray for guns.

  7. Sam says:

    Wow, I really liked this actually, I think their could have been a little more cut and polish to it, but I ran through it in a little less then an hour, the quick save helps a lot with some of the tougher jumps. I think he did a nice job, have to try his other game now.

    • Hybrid says:

      Hmm… there was a quick save button…. hmmm….. guess i should have downloaded the readme before beating the game. AOOFAD is pretty great as well, definitely check it out.

  8. Chaz says:

    Looking at the video it reminds me a bit of the old Bitmap Brothers classic, Gods.

  9. Hayley says:

    I think those graphics would give me a migraine.

  10. David says:

    The links to both games don’t work :(