Free Game Friday: Even more of less is more
The most recent Ludum Dare has unleashed an avalanche of entertaining minimalist games, meaning we're pleasantly buried with an unprecedented third week of minimalist games. I swear next week I’ll do my best to have an epic RPG with a ridiculous number of art assets or something.
Obsolescence is a game that throws out almost everything that you’d expect from a complicated shooter. There are no smaller enemies, just a complicated “boss” you are trying to shoot your way to the center of. That boss is on screen from the very start, so you can learn its pattern easily and your character is also constantly firing a weapon at full strength. But by jettisoning complications like enemy minions and complex weapon upgrade systems the game becomes a bullet hell shooter that’s all about the dodging. As you progress to more and more complicated bosses you’re assaulted by so many attacks at once that you must concentrate entirely on dodging while hoping you’re doing enough damage to the right part of the boss. It may not look or act like the classic top-down shooters of yore, but Obsolence gives you the same feeling of those games at their best.
Zip is another platform puzzle game that’s as much about your ability to solve logic puzzles as it is your precision jumping skills. This time you’ve got to make your way through a multicolored level that seems completely impassable. Luckily by pressing down you can change your color to be the same as whatever block you’re standing on, allowing you to move straight through it like it isn’t there. Unfortunately you can only be one color at a time, and finding the right colors in the right combination to get you to the other side without falling to your doom gets harder and harder as the game progresses.
Rebound plays like an even more minimalist version of one of the most brutally hard games of all time, QWOP. Instead of having you manage both legs, rebound just tasks you with controlling the rotation of a stick to make sure it keeps bouncing its way to the right. With each bounce the rotation gets adjusted, and it’s incredibly easy to have a single mistake that sends you flying a dozen meters in the wrong direction. Add in a level that falls out from under you if you stay on it too long and it becomes incredibly hard to make it very far. I made it to the triple digits once after a half hour or so of attempts and then decided to declare victory and get out before Rebound swallowed my life.
You Must Escape
You Must Escape is a game about echolocation. As you move through the level your footsteps reveal part of the map as the soundwaves bounce off the walls and return to you, but that’s the only visual feedback you get. As you progress you learn a few new ways to use sound to your advantage, but you also get new obstacles like deadly traps and even monsters that seek out any sound you make in the dark and chase after you.
Coffee Mafia plays like a minimalist version of one of last year’s best games, Hotline Miami. You’ve got a gun with infinite ammo and a single shot can kill any enemy. Problem is, you’re just as weak as your foes and a single glimpse of you out of the corner of their eye will make the bad guys drop their cigarette and come running at you with guns blazing. That means your best chance to kill most enemies is by landing a perfect shot in the split second between when they notice you and when they attack. That’s easier said than done however, especially as the number of enemies in a room, and the odd corners they can situate themselves in, start piling up.