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Steampunk Silhouettes: Columnae

At first glance, Columnae [official site] looks like a Limbo-like. The silhouetted folk in a hazy world, the sense of ever-present dangers, the hanged corpses strewn about the place. A voiceover talks about going down in order to go up and backwards to go forwards – it sounds like the sort of directions that taxi drivers often take when carrying me from airport to hotel in a strange new city. Columnae’s protagonist is making progress though, moving through an enormous city-construct in a ruined world. Video and details below.

If Limbo-like is a term – and one that describes a type of game rather than the years between graduating and finding a job – then it’s one that Columnae slipped away from as soon as I dug into the details. Rather than a side-scrolling accident simulator, it’s a “story-driven game with classic point & click adventure elements such as puzzles based on items and dialogues”. It’s nonlinear and steeped in “retrocausality”. How’s that work, then?

“Chapters are not played in chronological order, which allows the player to affect not only the future but also the past of the main character and the world. Depending on the actions that the player chooses to do within each chapter, yet-to-be-played chapters are placed in an appropriate “version” of the past or the future.”

Well blow me down. Maybe this will be the Post-apocalyptic Day Of The Cyberpunk Tentacle. I do like the art style, even if stovepipes, chains and curlicues are a little overdone – that might tell you as much about the things I choose to spend my time looking at as the game itself though.

Columnae is in development at Belgrade-based studio Moonburnt and will be released for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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Adam Smith

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