Like a slow motion Super Hexagon, Expand [official site] drew me into its labyrinth depths the moment I laid eyes on it. The trailer’s sombre piano music and black-and-white-with-a-splash-of-red vibe gave me reason to anticipate a supporting plot about divorce or man flu, but I’ve played the first half hour and all energies seem to be concentrated on the starkly beautiful visuals and some lovely course design. I use the word ‘course’ because Expand feels like an obstacle course – a strange and hypnotic obstacle course.
There’s a definite sense of melancholy attached to these shifting spaces and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the whole thing does turn out to be a metaphor for something, as is law for puzzle-platformers in this year of our discord, 7 AB.
Expand isn’t a puzzle-platformer though. It’s a rotating maze-game, a dodge ’em up in which increasingly complex structures melt into shape around you and threaten to crush you between their columns. Developer Chris Johnson describes Expand as creating a “sense of meditation” and what I’ve played has certainly been pleasant, pulling me along toward more elaborate structures and designs rather than frustrating with difficulty spikes and seemingly impassable areas.