My first adventure game was a 2D DOS game called Dangerous Dave. While a 21st century kid might find the game nothing more than an outdated, boring, piece of software, it was the world for me. I would scroll horizontally in colorful rooms, avoiding water, fire, and predictable monsters; I would loose and have to start from level one, determined to reach level 10 in the next try. There is something about games like these that I don’t find with modern games. Not to say I don’t like modern games; in fact, I don’t know how I would live without it. But something is missing in today’s virtual reality gaming experiences that existed in the ancient gaming era.
It is the simplicity that is missing from today’s games. Most games today try to depict reality, and, I have to say, they are doing a very good job at it. Back in the day, we did not have to take into consideration the dozens of things when trying to play a computer game; we did not have to worry about a 360 degree camera, an enemy coming from the back, different combat moves, strategic defenses, driving, shooting, at least not all at the same time. We would focus on the core gameplay and be good at it! Sometimes, one of our favorite games are those that are simple and doesn’t have much going on (Mario anyone?) Sometimes, we want to walk away from the complex reality and go into a simple wonder world. Linden’s Metroidvania Caves 2D, by Okaysamurai, is a simple wonder world.
Linden’s Metroidvania brings back many of the feelings that the 2D games once had, yet is so rich in environmental details that I felt completely immersed in the game during the entire gameplay. Linden’s Metroidvania is a game designed in a platform called Atmosphir. It is about the main character trying to explore a forest, when he falls into a hidden underground cave, full of treasures, dangerous obstacles and angry creatures. But the game is much more than that. It keeps the player engaged throughout the entire gameplay, with a constant storyline, hidden secrets, and even a mini puzzle. The designer paid attention to every environmental detail, making every part of the game look realistic and believable. But the best thing about this game is that all the environmental details does not distract the player from the gameplay at all. In most 3D games, the environment greatly affects a gameplay. A tree, for example, would require a player to walk around it. But because Linden’s Metroidvania was a “sidescroller” the environment did not affect the core gameplay, but rather blended in the background and foreground. The game looks beautiful, yet, it retains the simplicity missed from the old 2D sidescrollers.
One of my favorite things about Linden’s Metroidvania is the “map” area. When the player enters this area, the camera slowly zooms out, giving us a view of the entire level. Not only is this helpful, it works great and gives us a sense of how big the level is. But what I really appreciated is the minor details the designer worked on. In the “map” view, there are boxes and a torch in the foreground, and, surprisingly, this fits the scene so well, that it makes everything look beautiful. No wonder I returned to the “map” view just to appreciate the how it looks.
An important thing with designing or building anything is the final polish. This final touch can make huge difference on how the product is presented. Unfortunately, I have seen so many products that are, by itself, great products, but their lack of polish makes them look as if it is unfinished, or as if its designer did not put much care into it. But Linden’s Metroidvania is not one such product. It has polish. The designer made sure that the game is optimized for performance, and nothing is too hard or frustrating, and that everything feels right. I have to give a hand to Okaysamurai for that extra effort. Another thing I like about the game is that I felt connected with the designer, only because of the dialogues provided throughout the game. They were not annoying or useless but rather had a welcoming tone to it. While I didn’t read every dialogues (really, who ever does?), I appreciated them when I did read them.
I will conclude with some of my thoughts on the platform itself, Atmosphir. Since my childhood, I would finish a game and still be hungry for more of it. I would imagine what happens next. When I found a flaw in the game, I would ask myself, “if I created this game, I would make the game behave like this, or add this in, etc.” But at the same time, I never thought I could. But Atmosphir changed that! Atmosphir allowed me to play with my own imagination and create my ideal game. I no longer have to follow a game development career to create my own game! I can be anything and yet develop my own gaming experience. Atmosphir makes it easy and is a perfect platform for those, like me, who want to test their gaming imaginations. I give Okaysamurai another hand for making Atmosphir a reality.