As genres go, 6 Degrees Of Freedom Descent-em-ups haven’t quite had the same crowdfunding-fueled resurgence as other 90s classics. They’re fast paced shooters, offering free movement in a 3D space usually by means of spaceship or other zero-gravity craft exploring a complex. Sublevel Zero [official site] is no exception, with the added spice of procedurally generated levels, permadeath and VR support. Originally an entry into the Ludum Dare game jam under the Beneath The Surface theme, it’s now being funded by publisher Mastertronic into a commercial release. Trailer, more details and thoughts on the Ludum Dare version below.
You can grab a downloadable or web version of the Ludum Dare prototype here. It’s immediately accessible, the smooth movement making navigation of the claustrophobic spaces and combat within them fun. It’s quite challenging, happy to throw enemy ships at you thick and fast. This means new weapons pop up quickly, giving you new options for each encounter. It’s understandably simplistic given the jam-velopment, but clearly shows the procedural generation is a solid base to build upon.
The final version looks basically similar to play, with significant graphical improvements. The major upgrades will come from new systems – crafting, for example, will allow you to mix and match pick ups into new combinations – and refinement of those already in place, suring up the randomisation process and creating more interesting enemies to fight. I don’t have a Rift handy to test, but Sublevel Zero (and the genre as a whole) seem perfectly suited to it and its ilk.
Release is scheduled for some time this summer, via Steam.