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

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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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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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