LucasArts are on quite the crusade to prove they're no longer the grey men in grey suits working in a grey building and having grey dreams about billions of dollars earned from grey, lacklustre Star Wars games they've seemed to be for the last decade-plus. The re-release of a few beloved vintage titles onto Steam earlier this year won them a big old credibility pie, and now they're showing off the first of a mooted several new IPs - indie-esque gamettes that hint at a return to their offbeat barnstorming of yore. First up is Lucidity, which is best described as Mario meets Tetris meets Crayon Physics Meets Little Big Planet Meets Ico Meets Lemmings Meets Braid. It's dead pretty, and it's betrailered below.
In the broadest, broadest terms, it's Tetris as a platformer. You're granted a string of random shapes, which you then need to place in the environment to create a safe, fluid route for the auto-walking young lass Sofi. It might be an oblong, it might be a set of stairs, or it might be a jumpad (in the form of a Catapult). Sofi's rambling through her own dream-world - hence the title - and will merrily stumble into danger or grind to a halt if you (the exact nature of the player's character hasn't been exposited yet, but takes the form of simply a cursor) don't construct a suitable egress for her. It goes a little something like this:
It's as charming as a kitten wearing a hat shaped liked another kitten, and what's more it's out in mere weeks. What's more more, it's apparently not a one-off. LucasArts has also announced what it's informally calling its Labs, which is a quasi-experimental think/development tank aimed at creating titles more inventive or leftfield than its more conventional game-crop. Quoth its new blog:
"We are a lot of the same team that worked on Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. Our team is inspired to create new IP by all the amazing games being created out there in the indie space. Some old crusties on the team remember old skool days of bedroom coders mailing out tape cassettes and it’s great to see that spirit back (minus the cassette tape). It’s an exciting time to be in an industry that supports creative ideas as distinctly different as Flower and Shadow Complex."
Two things. One: wooooooooooooooooooooooo, etc.
Two: I wonder how yer actual indie developers feel about enormo-budgeted big boys turning up and piggybacking them like this. While it's a pretty happy turn of events for the gamers who ultimately get to play the resulting delights, if a load of big studios get in on this kind of act it could leave independent devs out in the cold. Or, alternatively, it's a handy route for struggling bedroom developers to access the mainstream, but without yielding their integrity to mainstream values. Either way, when the company that owns Star Wars opts to do this kind of thing, it's got potential to be a massive fuggin' deal for this old industry of ours. Iiiiiiiiiinteresting times.
Back to Lucidity, anyway. There's some confusion about the PC release. The mere mention/controversy of an Xbox Live release but not a Playstation Network one means most reportage of the PC version seems to have fallen through the cracks. Those places that had at least acknowledged it have claimed its release date was unannounced, but RPS's own super-sleuth John Walker dug up a press release that confirms an October 7th release date on both Xbox and PC. WELL DONE JOHN WALKER.