I was going to start off by explaining in excruciating detail the precise meaning of “7 Day FPS,” but I see Alec already took care of that – though admittedly, I tend to believe Doom evolved from tadpole creatures after John Romero’s hair collided with the laws of physics and caused the Big Bang. Oh well. To each his own. So then, that out of the way, how about we dive right in? The 7 Day FPS challenge yielded hundreds of bite-sized manshoots, but honestly, many of the most inventive first-person
shoot-ers chose to do things that hard way and not laboriously slaughter 534853 armed thugs. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Guts, glory, sweat, tears, reveling in those final moments when another human being’s dreams fade into non-existence like precious lifeblood draining from their veins – these are all things that go hand-in-hand with being a hyper strict college teacher’s assistant. First Person Tutor, then, gives you a front row seat (on someone’s face) to that most glamorous of lifestyles. You find spelling/grammar mistakes, make the streets run red with error-fueled ink, and slowly but surely cater to the whims of a power-mad professor.
In practice, it’s incredibly simple, but oddly satisfying. The way words pop as your red pen dashes them out of existence feels wonderful, and the professor’s increasingly petty reasons for demanding that you fail students are sure to strike a cord with, well, everyone who’s ever attended a university.
“Table for One is a game about awkwardly eating a steak,” reads this one’s entire description. And while it leaves out the part where the main character’s hunger is apparently so great that it’s allowed him to develop psychic food levitating powers, it’s otherwise pretty much completely accurate. Using the mouse buttons and WASD keys, the action you end up performing is less force feed and more force pull, but there is certainly steak and it’s certifiably awkward. It does, however, become oddly intuitive once you get the hang of it.
Honestly, though, Table For One might be even more enjoyable when you’re getting more on you (and on the ground, a chair, etc) than in you. The first-person feeder relentlessly mocks your failure to perform utterly menial tasks, and the witty quips are strong in this one.
“Cyberspace puzzle shooter in the vein of Rez and System Shock. Run from ICE nodes while rerouteing data streams.”
Obsolete’s allegedly about hacking and data and other such feats of techno-wizardry, but it’s about as abstract as they come. Ethereally blue bits and bobs languidly trickle through pitch black, almost spooky levels, and you attempt to connect them all with data streams. It can be a bit tricky to figure out (I’m currently stuck on a puzzle where I keep dying for no apparent reason, for example), but the whole thing’s an audiovisual treat. If nothing else, this proves that more developers should cite System Shock and Rez as their central inspirations.
“First person 2D. Who needs depth perception?”
Thirteen Gates is… um. Er, that is to say, it’s a game where… hm. OK, the driving concept behind this one was “first-person 2D,” so the end result does its damndest to defy description. Basically, though, it all comes together to form this strangely soothing yet utterly chaotic cacophony of colors and sounds. There are bright blues and checkered reds and people talking and mellow guitars playing and this game is the reason brains look like chewed up and spat out gum. Yeah, OK. I think that covers it.
“Use your gravity boots to reach the end of every level.”
Well, maybe not every level. I couldn’t find any cow levels, for instance, and that made me very sad. Even so, this topsy turvy puzzler – which sees you alternatively flip the world upside-down and right-side-up (or perhaps we’ve been on the ceiling for our entire lives) – quickly becomes quite devious. At one point, I even had to time my flips perfectly in order to essentially fly through that most dreaded of chambers: a, erm, water hallway. Flip’d, then, can be a bit frustrating at times, but it’s worth checking out for the occasional ingenious puzzle and, of course, the (highly recommended) option to shout “wheeeeeeeeeeee” any time you do anything ever.
So then, up is now down. Unfortunately, there’s still no word as to whether or not a sequel will include the ability to make left into right and cause cats and dogs to hug each other.
“Enjoy your shift mining on a floating platform on a gas giant.”
OK, I am a dirty, awful liar. Cloudbase, you see, has a little shooting in it. But! It also features a high-flying, wonderfully exhilarating central mechanic and very, very silly voice acting. So mainly, it’s a puzzle platformer about raising and lowering platforms that catapult you into the sky while hyperactive robots chatter in chuckle-worthy fashion. Sure, Portal’s such an obvious influence that I wouldn’t be surprised if its creator spent years meticulously growing a perfect recreation of Gabe Newell’s beard, but it’s too delightful of a production to pass up.
“Vonneguts & Glory is a short art game inspired by a passage from Slaughterhouse-Five wherein Billy Pilgrim observes the events of a war movie in reverse.”
Vonneguts does not contain any shooting. Instead, it’s all about un-shooting everyone and everything en route to un-parachuting into a Wolfenstein-inspired warzone. Admittedly, it’s quite short and not particularly intense, but Vonneguts makes up for those shortcomings with a healthy dose of surreality and a tiny injection of silliness.
Be a beetle. Do beetle things.
Honorable Mention: Blind Survivor
Blind Survivor definitely includes shooting, but I had to spotlight it because, well, you’re blind. That means – in case you’re not entirely clear on the definition of the word “blind” – that there are no graphics. Just movement and sound. Granted, the whole “sonar to figure out how close you are to an object” system can be a bit tedious and clunky, but still: this is something I’ve secretly wanted someone to try for years.