Welcome to The Indie Fix, where we delve into the exciting world of indie gaming to have a gander at promising works in progress, weird and wonderful freeware offerings, or recently published games that may have slipped under your radar!
One of the newest pieces present in the Ludum Dare Game Jam, I found myself playing A Small World for its tagline: “a la No Man’s Sky.” Could someone truly develop a game like No Man’s Sky in a mere 72 hour limit? Frankly, I don’t find that to be too implausible, and downloaded that sucker asap. A Small World is what No Man’s Sky would actually be, if it were the indie title it had initially been conceived as, and due to the time limit it bears merely the teensiest semblance to an actual video game.
Using a mixture of 2D gameplay when navigating The Final Frontier, and 3D gameplay when on the surface of a planet, A Small World pits you in the middle of an incredibly hostile solar system on a quest to find home. The graphics are rushed and the chiptune music is what you would imagine it to be; though it is catchy and stuck in my head. The aesthetic is cohesive, if not extremely rough, which is impressive for a Game Jam title. The music gets you in the groove, truly sets the mood for your race to the finish.
Navigating space is done through the use of your thrusters, and then turning your ship left to right. Making emergency maneuvers will require the use of brakes, and you will need to boost back up to pace: WASTING your precious fuel! The movement is fun and chaotic, and zipping by planets collecting and trading for materials is hilarious when their gravitational pull sucks you out of your trajectory and flings you into a nearby, hostile world. With no weapons to defend yourself (and no threats when on-foot gathering supplies,) the action quickly becomes reaction; forcing you to make haste and plot your course intelligently and quickly.
The homages to No Man’s Sky are purposeful, especially when bouncing upon extremely barren, boring surface planets collecting shit you don’t care about. Your numbers go up, you trade for more fuel, so you can fly further to more planets, collect more shit, trade for fuel, and so the journey doth continue. I didn’t manage to find my way home, I ran out of fuel whilst scavenging furiously on a dull, gray, rock of a planet.
Don’t let these harsh words deceive you; I got a KICK out of this. I was laughing the whole way, for as Ludum Dare continues to prove time and time again, the conception and execution of a stunning core design to a game might be faster than you think. It is the ages and years of refinement and polish which turn into the gems we find on Steam and further. Whilst this title will likely never be expanded too far and see the light of day, it serves as yet another reminder that Sean Murray is a goddamn hack, and that is enough for me this week.