I do like it when Kickstarter campaigns come equipped with a demo. It's like being able to take a car for a test drive before you buy it - except the test drive takes place a year before the car is finished so you sometimes have to make do with riding a trolley down a hill instead. Still, it's nice to get out of the house.
The Wild Wild Pixel has a demo so prepare for a ramshackle soapbox derby. It's an early alpha of the game's first chapter (of five) but despite missing and incomplete assets, it gives a good sense of the game. That's because the game is a point and click adventure, so it's tone, characterisation, story and puzzles are more important than the state of its assets. Video below.
Is it just me who thinks this particular soapbox has a lingering odour about it? The far-off stink of Deponia's trash planet, perhaps? You've got your non-heroic protagonist attempting to escape from a cluttered community that doesn't seem particularly motivated to look outside itself. The escape attempts are comedically disastrous. Come to think of it, I might be mixing this whole thing up with memories of my teenage years in sleepy Lancashire rather than Deponia. I haven't even played Deponia.
I'm hoping that The Wild Wild Pixel's protagonist is an incompetent Threepwood kind of chap rather than a jerk. The line between the two seems to have been blurred. Adventure game protagonists suit incompetence - it's why they use a hairdryer and a chicken beak to break out of jail rather than nicking a key or hiring a lawyer. One prat fall away from breaking their own necks, they always manage to bounce back in the most unlikely manner possible. That approach to life and its many trials is ideal in a genre that involves convoluted solutions to unusual problems.
The clumsy clown only needs a few smarmy gestures and conceited phrases in his repertoire to become a bully though. He can't be allowed to recognise that he is effectively untouchable and certainly shouldn't come to believe that his catastrophic blundering is evidence of wisdom or superiority. Guybrush introduced himself as a mighty pirate but, deep down, he always knew the truth, even when he made it.
Oh dear. I'm doing daft character studies of games about comedy pirates. I blame the Blackwell games, which I've been replaying in anticipation of the final entry. Haven't reached it yet but I'm very much enjoying spending time with the characters again, riddled as they are with social anxieties, credible low points and resolute wit.
The Wild Wild Pixel has caught my attention at a time when I'm dipping back into the point and click world. I'm ready to go for a big old swim but I'm not quite sure that it's entirely safe to submerge myself. The demo might help me to make that decision. Also, here are some thoughts on interface design.
Walking is self-evident, looking is to trigger observations from the main character & interact combines everything else! Hover with interact over an object and it becomes the "pick up" action. Hover over a lever and it becomes the "use" action or hover over a crate and it becomes the "open" action.
You cycle between the three with the right mouse button and trigger them with the left! This removes the cluttered UI and feels more intuitive to use without sacrificing game complexity.
Basically, I wanted to quote that to confirm that the game will have a 'look at' command. This is good news. As someone with a severe case of Voice Acting Hyper-Sensitivity (English anime dubs regularly hospitalise me), I hope the Kickstarter reaches at least $60k to bring in a variety of actors. Although I guess I can always just turn them off. I'm playing Blackwell without voices, although something is lost when The Countess doesn't do a strained yell every time she leaves a screen.