Hands On, Bombs Off, With Introversion’s Wrong Wire

As Pip discussed yesterday, Darwinia/Prison Architect developers Introversion surprised everyone at Rezzed by having two entirely unannounced prototypes of new games on the show floor for people to play. Pip had a good play of Scanner Sombre, the game that narrowly won an attendee vote of interest, and I’ve sat down with Wrong Wire to see if I’ve the steely nerves required for defusing naughty bombs.

Where Scanner Sombre feels like the beginnings of an obviously brilliant idea, Wrong Wire feels far more squarely in the mould of “prototype”. Which is no criticism, since that’s precisely what it’s meant to be. And as an idea that’s going to need a lot more work, it’s a splendid one.

At the moment a hodgepodge implementation of placeholder art suggests a puzzle game that will both test ingenuity and performance under pressure. Bombs with timers, getting increasingly more complex to make safe, with wry, even cruel misguidance from the bombs’ creators.

Things start off very simply. You need only unscrew the panel from the front of the bundle of dynamite, identify the detonator type from a list of three, and then clip the correct wire. You’re a hero. But things quickly ramp up in the few levels on offer in this early build, as thumb scanners, Eprom Readers and Serial Inspectors start to play a roll, having you not only chop up bits of explodeywires, but also hack and recode elements of bombs.

This was, apparently, all to be a part of Introversion’s legendarily never-happening Subversion, and this is clearly those ideas still wanting to climb out of creator Chris Delay’s brains. But perhaps in a far more manageable, less company-exploding way. And there’s huge potential here – there’s already a sense of gathered knowledge applying to later puzzles, a decent sense of progression, and hints at how deep it could all go. And being Introversion, there’s the possibility that could be pretty darned deep if they were to pursue this.

It already has tones of the macabre, and as Pip mentioned yesterday, bombs planted on underground trains and the like aren’t subjects people tend to take too lightly of late – I think this immediately suggests the possibility of some interestingly controversial elements, the option to go to uncomfortable places, and that makes me want to see a lot more. It could paint itself as disturbingly ugly, or theatrically heroic, and I’m enjoying guessing how that would look.

So far, there are only five levels, and they’re all relatively simple (once you’ve realised you’re being a big idiot and can rotate the camera with the WASD keys – thanks Chris), but with the tools available you can already see where new complexity can be found. And with Introversion drawing comparisons with The Room, that also suggests a desire to go a lot deeper with each puzzle perhaps.

At the moment controls are fairly simple. You have an electric screwdriver, a pair of wire cutters, and the aforementioned gadgets. Interaction is just mouse clicks – click pliers on wire/click Eprom Reader on port – with the camera moved about on WASD. In these early levels, there’s not a lot of choice to be had – you pretty much carry out the tasks in order. But again, there’s lots of room for scope here. And this simplicity also means it’ll translate easily onto touch screens, and perhaps most pertinently for an experiment like this, onto VR.

Still, I’m wildly speculating, not least because this game was narrowly beaten in the Rezzed vote for further interest – although I’d argue the closeness suggests they’d do well to explore both games at least a little further. Then again, I’m biased toward puzzling, and would love a slightly discomforting brain teaser to appear. And yes, the idea of playing it in Vive VR sounds very tempting.

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15 Comments

  1. tolomea says:

    This looks like it has potential to be a great puzzle game, I hope they develop it.

  2. xyberviri says:

    This seems pretty late to the game with “Keep Talking and nobody explodes” already on steam.

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      The Almighty Moo says:

      It’s a very different thing to keep talking having played it at Rezzed this weekend. Keep talking is about the interaction between the two players, working together as best you can to defuse in the time. Wrong wire is more of a puzzle game, where the trick is figuring out what needs to be done to defuse the bomb, often requiring a little lateral thinking. The demo we played required you to figure out the identity of the bomber, using only limited tools- not something that would really work in Keep talking.

      • HigoChumbo says:

        But does it have a multiplayer component?

        • dripgrind says:

          There was no multiplayer as such but it’s the kind of game where having someone else kibitzing and taking notes would be a big help.

    • dripgrind says:

      Yeah, I never got a chance to play, but from what I saw at Rezzed, this is more of a “realistic” bomb simulator, so the puzzles require you to reason about the simulated workings of the IED components: SIM cards, wires, batteries etc and how they interact.

      Seems like that would make for more satisfying puzzles than the magical “technology” of The Room, where the solution is often pretty arbitrary.

      Surprised that more people wanted Scanner Sombre; it’s easy to see how this could become a really satisfying 8-10 hour puzzle game.

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        The Almighty Moo says:

        I suppose that people were thinking more along the lines of ‘what grabs me most’ rather than the practicalities of a full game based on either concept. Scanner Sombre was the more immediate of the two concepts, but I’m not sure how it will be fleshed out into a full game. That is for those wizards at introversion to figure.

        • dripgrind says:

          Scanner Sombre looks nice and the atmosphere is intriguing, but there’s a piece missing.

          It’s not a relaxed, zero-jeopardy walking simulator. You can die. But the *only* way you can die (as far as I could tell) is to fall through a gap in a bridge which you didn’t spot because you didn’t scan it throughly enough.

          As it is, you never have a reason to take your finger off the “scan” button.

          My suggestion would be to introduce enemies that attack if they are scanned too much. Light one of them up with more than 10 data points and it comes after you. So now every LIDAR pulse you send out into the world is a trade-off – it gives you info about how not to fall into a chasm, but there’s a risk it will awaken something terrible.

          Once you’ve awoken one of Them by scanning it too much, it could chase you following this rule: the more densely-scanned the terrain, the faster it moves, or the more clearly it perceives you, or something like that. Again, the point is that every data point you gather is a trade-off; you should want to run the scanner all the time to understand the world around you, but at the same time every data point you gather should come with a cost.

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    Cross says:

    I think my biggest gripe when i played it was the “Guess what the designer’s thinking”-problem. Though the game promises plenty of depth, it either needs a quite gentle learning curve, or massive leaps of logic from level to level, as with the jump from C4 to suitcase bomb.

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      The Almighty Moo says:

      That’s part of the promise of the concept though in as much as the designer becomes the desinger of the bomb rather than the designer of the game. As a demo it had its problems (I knew what I had to do but could not figure the prescribed method of achieving it) but beyond that the whole “get inside the bomb maker’s head” could be really rewarding.

      • Radthor Dax says:

        Imagine a bomb-sharing community similar to Mario Maker or over Steam Workshop etc..!

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      The Almighty Moo says:

      (Sorey, Hit send too soon)
      The opportunity for finding certain bombmakers, or being able to tell them by their handwriting is pretty exciting, and one of the reasons for defusing some IEDs is to spot the sources and hopefully gather evidence that leads to arrests.

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Why is Dr.Strangelove in that one screenshot?

    • Shmian says:

      “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the (Introversion Game About Defusing) Bomb(s)”

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    Harlander says:

    They’ve really gone belt-and-braces with that bomb. Demolitions charges and three Claymore mines?