Anamorphosis Is A Puzzle Game With Perspective

Anamorphosis [official site] is a puzzle game that “toys with the perspective phenomenon known as anamorphosis”. From hereon, I’ll use that word another two times which means I’ll have used it four times in total throughout the article – no instance of which I’ve spelled it correctly on first attempt. As I write this now, the red squiggly spelling error line sits underneath each one still, yet I’m sure they’re okay. In short, Anamorphosis is a puzzle game based around optical illusions. After this, I’ll also try to best explain how this works. It’s weird, but it’s cool. First, have a look at the trailer below.

Right, let’s have a bash at explaining that opening section, shall we? “The distorted images can be anywhere,” says the trailer. “On the floor, the wall, or multiple surfaces. The distorted images can also be [obstructed] images.” Basically, this speaks to images where optical illusions mess with perspective and depth; whereby complete images can only be viewed from the exact correct angle. If I’m not explaining this very well, think Channel 4’s pre/post advert idents and you’re on the right track. The trailer then talks of how this translates to the game, and that four colours will help mark out puzzles: blue indicates a hint that tells players to pay attention to this location; red indicates objects that can kill you; green indicates reality – whereby objects can be switched around; and yellow marks each puzzle’s exit.

Right, I’m starting to confuse myself now, but, while it’s a difficult premise to explain in writing, the trailer starts to make more sense from 2.20 onward where the idea of altering your surroundings by virtue of magic camera is introduced. The scope for the game to then present its puzzles seems far more intriguing as you’re asked to manipulate reality and optical illusions in tandem. Granted, it looks a bit clumsy at times, but it looks fun nevertheless.

Speaking to IndieGames.com, designer Lucien Chen said that Anamorphosis was inspired by an art exhibition in his native Taiwan. “There was a 3D painting in one session which caught my eye immediately,” said Chen. “I was thinking it would be cool if that image could be real in life, even becoming a game.”

The Anamorphosis prototype can be downloaded now on the game’s website.

21 Comments

  1. sasquatch788 says:

    this site has gone to shit..don’t care if you delete this…

    • Alastor says:

      what ??

      • Sarfrin says:

        Maybe that comment only makes sense from a very specific perspective.

    • Mrice says:

      I swear comments have been wierdly mean lately. People insulting the shit out of just about anything.

      I mean jeez i know that sort of behaviour is kinda typical in the games community but its sad to see it coming here. Hopefully its just a spat.

  2. Ross Angus says:

    The Museum of Simulation Technology does a similar trick. They released a new trailer the other day.

    • April March says:

      There’s also that Ludum Dare game by Rat King. I hope they’re going to work on that now that they’re done with Tri.

      But you’re right, Museum is super clever about this.

    • Bronxsta says:

      Nice to see that’s still in development

      There was also a cool 7DFPS game called Beyond Perspective
      link to 7dfps.com

  3. Premium User Badge

    Al__S says:

    Had a play through of this. The last few levels are a sudden jump in challenge, with less hand-holding blue cubes and more “just find the right angle”. Fun idea.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Sleepymatt says:

    To be fair I haven’t played it, so I may be wrong, but it strikes me that whilst this initially seems a nifty idea, in reality seems it would descend in to a pixel-hunt in first person, which just gives me the heebie-jeebies altogether.

    • April March says:

      Yeah, I might give the demo a shot, but from the trailer it feels like it doesn’t turn into anything actually fun.

  5. Sam says:

    Before playing it I worried there’d be too little player choice to solve puzzles beyond just finding the right place to stand, limiting that core mechanic to either simple puzzles or requiring other mechanics to be layered on top to create something of substance.

    After playing I agree with my earlier worries, and realised what a pain it is to have to find the exact right place to stand. Even after playing “hunt the bounding box” the illusion is broken by the projected image and the real version almost never matching perfectly.

    The final level of the prototype is interesting as they show off a little tech to dynamically generate projected images, letting the player freely project any object on to background walls. It’s fun to play with but it’s clear they couldn’t find much in the way of puzzling to do with that. Instead they had to use the simpler fixed images of the rest of the levels to construct puzzles.

    I think as a prototype it works well to explore the possibilities of the mechanic. Unfortunately it shows that it’s not a great mechanic to build a game around. It very quickly devolves into a hunt for the correct place to stand, with the only opportunity for real puzzling when the player is required to undo some projections after using the area they make accessible. As one mechanic within a wider game it could certainly be neat. Worth mentioning at this point that the mechanic of needing to find the right place to make a projected image look correct has been done in several mainstream games (but not having it convert into a 3D object.)

  6. lupinewolf says:

    Remember Perspective?
    link to games.digipen.edu

  7. brucethemoose says:

    This makes me miss Antichamber. What a wonderful, seizure-inducing puzzle game it was…

    • Marblecake says:

      Antichamber gave me the creeps. I don’t think I’ve ever been as freaked out or depressed by a game before or since. There was this constant sense of deepening madness the further you progressed…I dunno, just felt as if the walls were closing in. I don’t know if I actually finished it, but I think at some point I just stopped playing.
      What a game.

      • Bugamn says:

        For some reason Antichamber gave me the opposite impression. I found the images and messages kinda comforting, it was relaxing despite the insanity of it all.

  8. killingbutterflies says:

    That was a bit disappointing. The two examples at the end are basically the player standing in a specific place and pointing in a specific direction which will remove the texture to reveal the actual geometry behind. I was waiting for my mind to be blown in the same way as Parallax, AntiChamber, Beyond Perspective and the like.

    • Chekote says:

      That was my thoughts exactly. Very disappointing. I don’t see why you need the camera at all to be honest, why not just stand at the correct location and walk towards the “illusion” for it to become real?

      Regardless, it would still be the same “remove the texture” trick.

  9. Havalynii says:

    Anamorphosis: The Eschering.

  10. Jay Load says:

    Too late Wile E Coyote (Nemesis Riduclii) learns how the Roadrunner (Velocitus Incalculus) escaped through all those painted tunnels.