So far this blog has been devoted to my ideas, my playtest documentation, and general ramblings about design. Today I feel like trying something new - analyzing a game I am playing. Yes, I've had to do this in the past for classes or for research, but this time I am doing it out of genuine interest in the design behind a game I am currently enjoying.
Waking Mars, a game created by Tiger Style Games, I believe exhibits some truly unique features. The core mechanics are nothing new, but cleanly execute - a 2D scroller that lets you walk on the ground or float up and down with a jet pack, and clicking to throw objects. The movement control and physics simulation are comfortable and fluid, and not frustrating or cumbersome as I am accustom to in 2D games. The story is interesting and not entirely over-used - an explorer discovering life on Mars.
The unique thing is the lack of violence...or perhaps the approach they take to removing violence. There is violence towards me, the player, because the world is fairly hostile, however there is essentially nothing I can do to fight back against the world, I can only endure. The world itself is fraught with danger - jagged rocks, crumpling caves, and steep drops if I forget to use my jet pack - but there is another danger: ferocious Martian lifeforms. My defenses against these creatures is to distract them while I try to get past, quite a fascinating mechanic. There is nothing I can do to harm the creatures or the world, however I can witness the creatures harming and killing each other, as I am a helpless observer of nature.
I have not beat this game yet, so I will likely post an update once I complete it, but I can already say that I highly recommend this game. It is unique and innovative, and the art and sounds are compelling and the world is very immersive.