Welcome back to the Indie Fix, a column which showcases Indie and games which have slipped under the radar. Today we are taking a look at Receiver a game made in 7 days for a game jam which gives immense tension through it’s game mechanics.
Receiver is a game with guns at it’s core. “But we play games with guns all the time!” I hear you cry. But wait! In this game your gun is not a magic rod which spews forth bullets to spray enemies to death. In this game, you have no heads-up display, with the exception of the help box, which can be used to give you a list of the keys and actions you can perform in the game.
Almost all of these relate to your gun, and in this game you don’t just left click and shoot. First, you need to remove your clip from the gun if you are using one of the standard handguns (there are three guns in the game, a semi-automatic handgun, an automatic handgun, and a revolver). You then need to check how many bullets you have in your clip and if you have space left you can add more bullets, after holstering your clip-less gun for a moment. You can then take a moment to hit two separate keys in order to check whether or not you have a bullet chambered, then you know whether or not you should cock your gun after re-inserting the clip, because if there is a bullet chambered, it’ll fly right out, and in this game ammo is scarce and it’s complete random chance how much you begin with, but usually it seems to be around the 10 bullet mark. That’s right, not ten clips, ten BULLETS. If you are using the automatic you have the option to shift a pin to switch between semi and full automatic modes, and when using the revolver the ENTIRE process is completely different.
After about 10 minutes of marveling at how cool a fully detailed, working firearm is you may want to move onto the enemies. You will arrive in a procedurally generated set of buildings reminiscent of industrial apartments, with the goal of surviving as long as possible while exploring the buildings and finding cassette tapes. These tapes reveal that the world has gone through what is know as the ‘mind kill’, an event that essentially brainwashed most of the population of wherever you are.
You are a receiver, trained to be immune to the mind kill, and taught how to use a gun and fight off these enemies of free people. Who are these enemies you ask? Flying drones which look like a rather chunky remote controlled helicopter toy, and machine guns on turrets that slowly spin around and around until they see you, at which point they shoot you. And damn are they scary.
Alright, scary may not be quite the right work here, perhaps tense is more appropriate. because in this game, if you get shot once by a turret you’re dead. If you get touched by the fliers and their tasers you are dead. You need to get past them, and depending on where you hit them, you may know know if they have been disabled. Firstly, you have no cross-hair, you have to use the sights on the guns. Secondly, the turrets have barrels, ammo packs, sensors and other parts.
Shoot the computer bit (I’m not sure what it ACTUALLY is) and the turret will bend over and emit smoke, signalling you have busted it. If you shoot the targeting system, however, it will continue to spin, it just won’t detect you. Shoot the ammo pack and it will lock on to you, but it won’t be able to shoot you. this is where the real thrill comes in. When you shoot at a turret you say to yourself, “Ok, I think I shot the ammo pack, but I’m not sure, because I had to duck back behind that wall, and that was my last bullet”, and the feeling you get when you round the corner with no ammunition and have the turret target you is so intense, and the relief when a second goes by without it shooting you is amazing.
The music is solid, the graphics are boring but functional, generally the assets aren’t anything to shout about because it was made in 7 days, but it is such fun and a great experimental game to try out, just to feel the tension that could be achieved in games which has this level of depth with their guns. It’s only a fiver on Steam right now, so go pick it up! You can also find it on the Wolfire Games website HERE.