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Fare Well, Horizontal: Against The Wall

I reckon vertically inclined first-person adventure Against the Wall is one of the most interesting indie projects in development, not only because even in its alpha state its polished and playable, but simply because I’ve never played anything else quite like it. Tasked with climbing a wall upon the side of which entire settlements and ecosystems cling, the player is able to pull out sections of the wall by waving a sort of staff at them. In this way it’s possible to create steps and platforms. It’s a fascinating world with an immediately understandable path and means of progression. The latest version of the alpha adds a fair bit since I first took a look and future plans include randomly placed biomes.

If you haven’t already tried the alpha I’d strongly recommend that you stop whatever you’re doing now and download it immediately. It’s free and it will probably make you immeasurably more delighted than you were before you played it. As I don’t know how to quantify delight, please note that this means you could smile so completely that your head is bisected or you might be as happy as a pig not in muck.

The final game will tell a story, with a linear ascent the aim, but recent experiments with biomes suggest a wider (taller?) world to explore. They’re not just being added because procedural content seems a neat thing to add though. Over to designer Michael Consoli:

The only real problem that I have with biomes is that players may go out to explore these areas rather than follow the linear path that would take them further up the wall and through the game’s story. I wouldn’t want someone wander off to some random volcano in the distance thinking that they can get a boost there, when really the nearest elevator is a kilometer in the other direction. It’s a linear game set in an open world, so there is a real possibility that players could get hopelessly lost.

My solution may be to have a system that clearly defines waypoints for the player. Mirror’s Edge had a button that would turn the player to face the next waypoint in the sequence. The challenge would be to teach the player to use this function.

A brilliant concept, a compelling journey and, judging by the thought process outlined above, nothing will added unless it pulls its weight and improves the experience.

Preorders are available at $10 and will provide access to the beta once available. The download on the site at present is an alpha which is free to all. Go play and maybe even chatter on the forums. It’s far lonelier than it should be over there.

And remember, there are definitely no monsters.

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Adam Smith

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