Refunktion Is A Free First-Person Stealth Platformer

All game trailers aim to be in some way aspirational, offering glimpses of places you want to visit or activities you want to perform. Refunktion accomplishes both: its setting has the angular, white geometry of Mirror’s Edge, right down to the splashes of colour and the horizon of sky-scraping obelisks floating upon a shimmering sea; and the activity is a stealth-platformer about mastering the slides and wall-jumps required to avoid the sight of patrolling robots and the electric death they bring with them. There’s a free first episode available to play now, and there’s a trailer and some thoughts below.

Stealth games are in part about the tension between the player’s desire to progress and the patience required to move slowly, stay quiet and remain hidden. Refunktion makes that internal tension overt by making movement half the fun of the game. You pick up speed the longer you run, and if you can master the slides and walljumps seen in the video above, you can replace progression-via-creeping with the exhilaration of just-barely outrunning detection and death.

Unless you’re preternaturally gifted, the aspirational transformation from beginning-tortoise to mastery-hare will be marked by frustration. At least part of that is the slight fiddly-ness of the controls – you’ll need to quickly grab distracting-when-thrown blocks but your grasp seems a little shorter that in most games, for example, and the wall-bounding would be much easier if wall-running was a part of the moveset.

My suggestion is that you slow down and embrace your likely ineptitude. Watching patrol patterns, leaning around corners and crouching between cover is still the surest way to advance. Once you’ve got the lay of the level and collected each of the power cores necessary to complete it, you can return to refine your times.

Version 1.2 of Refunktion can be downloaded via IndieDB. It’s also up on Steam Greenlight if you think this first free episode deserves more attention (I obviously do), and if you want a planned commercial second episode to exist in the future.

19 Comments

  1. FreeTom says:

    Am I the only person left who really doesn’t enjoy stealth games? They’d be okay if enemies noticed you when a person obviously would notice you. But they don’t. So then I I try and find the right line somewhere between “a drunk chimpanzee would notice you from here” and “a deaf-blind sloth would notice you from here” which is just a case of letting myself be killed about fifty times until I’m sure that I’m not wasting time by giving them far too wide a berth.

    Which isn’t fun.

    • Stardog says:

      Yes, you are.

    • JimmyG says:

      Any stealth game I can think of requires some suspension of disbelief in order for the game to work as designed. I think in the real world, there’s just too much unpredictability for someone to sneak around dozens of armed guards for 8-15 hours and not, you know, get caught. I mean, the third-person camera alone bestows superhuman perception.

      You’re perfectly entitled to your opinion, though, and I can understand it. At the same time, I feel like I could say what you’re saying — but about an FPS or an RPG or almost any other genre of game. “How come I, the player, am capable of such superhuman feats while they, the lowly NPCs, aren’t? This game’s stupid.”

      But it sounds like we’d both appreciate more advanced AI in stealth games, so let’s shake hands.

    • padger says:

      Yep. You are the only one. Out of hundreds of millions of people. Lonely.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      I’m the same way. I think my worst experience with this was the opening scene of Assassins Creed 3. You crawled along the edge of balconies of a European theatre, packed with people. Apparently peripheral vision hadn’t been invented yet, because the crowd just ignored me.

      Oh and I also don’t like the waiting. Gimme a button that speeds up time so I don’t have to wait for the guards to finish their rounds.

      • Stardog says:

        So you complain about the realism, but ask for something to speed up time? A good insight into the mind of a stealth hater.

      • Faran says:

        I love stealth games, but I agree that that part was ridiculous. There’s no way nobody would see you and be all “Hmm, that doesn’t seem like something you should do” and call the guards on you.

    • anon459 says:

      You’re not. The AI in stealth games is hilariously bad, and apparently deliberately so. I don’t think it would be that hard to design a stealth game where enemies have peripheral vision, can look up, and don’t forget about the guy who just stabbed their friend ten seconds after it happened, but nobody does it because that would require decent game design skills.

      • Stardog says:

        Nobody does it because they DO have decent game skills. If you actually think about it for 5 seconds, you’d realise why enemies seeing above a certain height, and too far to the side, would not make for fun gameplay. That’s called game design.

        • anon459 says:

          It’s all subjective I suppose, but personally it kills any enjoyment i might otherwise get from a game.

          • KenTWOu says:

            On the contrary, In most of the cases AI in stealth games is more complex, because the player has more effective means to interact with AI, because stealth games are trying to simulate more things. That’s why in stealth games you can take enemies in human shield, talk with them, scare them, harm them, make them more suspicious, cheat them and even recruit them. Their peripheral vision isn’t strong enough, but that was made for the sake of balance. That’s the idea of the genre itself to make stealth phase a little bit longer, to start action phase a little bit later, to allow the player to get back to stealth. Some of the stealth games use several vision cones and simulate that peripheral vision, make enemies react slower when they noticed you using it. Meanwhile, in pure action games AI is stupid bot which works like some kind of killing machine, who kills everything that moves and that’s it. And let’s talk about situational awareness, stealth AI in recent stealth action games should do almost all action stuff fps AI could do and on top of that have a better situational awareness. Stealth AI should recognize different states of different objects around him like broken lights and windows, turned light switches, opened doors, working gadgets or stolen loot. It means more algorithms, more barks, more animations. It’s challenging to maintain that, to make everything consistent from the player point of view. But if we take FPS/TPS games, the most interesting, the most surprising AI stuff happens in the games which have stealth, because they have stealth.

    • DrollRemark says:

      I like stealth games, but yeah, they are very game-y. My main bugbear has always been the way that all patterns reset once you hide for a few seconds. I don’t want things to get impossible, but to my mind, there should be some change in enemy behaviour if they’ve seen you at least once.

      • BobbyFizz says:

        Good point, in metal gear solid it’s (!) whats that head shaped object at head height poking around the corner? I’ll go and investigate *guard investigates*, ah fuck it, must be nothing. Back to standing in the corridoor looking that way, then that way.

      • LionsPhil says:

        IIRC, and maybe I don’t, Project IGI had a alertness meter that never completely reset.

        It was also a pretty bad game.

  2. JimmyG says:

    I really like that jam. It reminds me of the BGM in the two Bomberman games I used to play on N64. I also really like the name, cuz it’s got “funk” in it. And the mobility looks like a blast. The only thing I don’t like is the one-shot failure; I can usually have more fun speeding and sliding around if I get a little fudge room (Mirror’s Edge, Dustforce) (or microchallenges and quick respawns, as with VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy).

  3. TomxJ says:

    Add hands and feet and i’m sold

    • Shadowcat says:

      You heard the man! Hands and feet! I want them hanging on every wall by tomorrow!

  4. Frosty Grin says:

    It really doesn’t need to look so similar to Mirror’s Edge.