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Ballpoint Universe Is Mad, Gorgeous, Entirely Hand-Drawn

I think the word you're looking for is *completely speechless*

Hey, remember pens? Once upon a time, humanity used them for chewing into gnarled oblivion (and also writing) before we evolved the ability to channel our psychic whims through keyboards, touch screens, and the like. Depressingly, there will probably soon be a generation that actually needs that explained to them. They’ll then nod astonishment through their VR displays before adding, “Wait, what’s a keyboard?” At which point I will fall down. I will fall down and burst into outraged (and very real) flames. ┬áBut until then, can we all come together and appreciate just how completely incredible Ballpoint Universe‘s entirely ballpoint-drawn universe looks? I mean, goodness. The exploration platformer/shmup (yes, that is a thing) looks brilliant in motion too, and you can experience it via either a trailer after the break or a free demo.

Those are the tangled, triumphant scrawlings of some demented crazy person. I’m certain of it. The basic premise of Ballpoint Universe’s world, however, is actually kind of adorable.

“Every inkling of creativity goes somewhere, every thought, hum, sketch, scribble, dance, spoken word is both pulled out of, and fed back into a creativerse so vast it has no real logical meaning. In the realms of notebook paper, creativity is hunted down like an infection. The ordered societies of logic: Geometry, Algebra, Grammar, Physics, and Anatomy wage war on the creative spurts that have settled on their pages, and they are winning. But every idea starts small, and even the smallest spark can start a raging inferno.”

You, then, assume the role of an especially spunky little spurt, taking the fight back to the logicians both on foot and in an exceedingly pointy, highly customizable space ship.

It’s a bit of a strange mix, but the demo is – for the most part – encouraging. The platforming area, while basic, is a visual treat, and it’s populated by suitably alien creatures, like a disembodied boot person and a TV creature that says, “I’d really enjoy it if you stared at my face for a few hours. But y’know, you don’t have to.” His name is Telegreg. Delightful. As someone who doodled all sorts of oddities in notebook margins (I INVENTED SPONGEBOB I SWEAR), I wholeheartedly approve.

Shooting, however, proved a little more worrisome. Yes, I entered my first mission carrying an arsenal that was already ceiling-high with parts, but the levels quickly grew repetitive, and movement felt imprecise. Admittedly, melee weapons, shields, and things of that nature suggest that combat could become quite varied and situation-based, but I need to see more before I can write this off as a mere early game problem.

That said, I’m not in any way, shape, form, or doodle of a mechanical steampunk owl creature writing this one off. It’s positively packed with promise, so I’m eagerly awaiting its May 2013 drop date. Which is very soon! Hurrah!

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Nathan Grayson

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