the artistry and psychology of gaming

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Where Am I?

Where Am I?

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

The Ludum Dare October Challenge 2011 is on! In honor of the second year of the October Challenge, Gaming on the House will be spending the month celebrating some exciting games that have come from Ludum Dare competitions past. You can learn more about the Ludum Dare by visiting www.ludumdare.com.

Where Am I?

 

a-MAZE-ing

Genre: Deceptive Maze Adventure
Link to Game: http://www.benn-gaming.co.uk/ld19.html
Game Info: Created by Benn Powell (within 48 hours!) for Ludum Dare 19 in December 2010, placing 7th overall, and 3rd in innovation. The theme for Ludum Dare 19 was “Discovery.”

You’d never guess that a series of mazes could be that entertaining. Sure, what passes for entertainment for a 4-year old on a restaurant place-mat does not necessarily qualify for the rest of us, but there’s still some fun to be had in solving some of gaming’s most simplest of puzzles. Video games have come up with a variety of making mazes more interesting for mature audiences, often sticking monsters, combat, magic, stat building exercises, and all types of hazards to stumble across, but primarily these additions are supplementary to the simple A to B navigation the player is tasked with. Fortunately, there is a way to increase the challenge without that extra flair.

Hide the maze.

Where Am I? is a clever maze game that relies on sensory navigation, in a similar fashion to how I’m able to find my way to my kitchen for chips during a power outage. You just sort of fumble around until you find what you’re looking for. Pieces of the maze are revealed once you hit a wall in one of four colors, but only one color will be revealed at a time. Each time the player hits a wall, that wall lights up with a series of bleeps and bloops to give the player some bearing towards his surroundings, but once the player leaves that wall, the colors fade  back into the darkness. The start and end points change each level as well, so that you’re not always trying to get to the same place.

The picture above, for example is actually the first level. The game simply drops you within the middle, with only the knowledge that you can move up, down, left, and right. Soon enough, the player will find the first wall, and will throughout the first level will come to understand how the walls interact with each other. The image below contains the four individual walls that you will find within (side by side, instead of layered on top of each other).

The first level, if you break it down

For being completed in 48 hours, the game is fairly well conceived, becoming somewhat of a cross between Adventure on the Atari 2600 and the Bit.Trip series. The game is fairly short, only being about 5-6 levels, but the levels are well put together to challenge spatial and memory skills, and the game’s sound effects are well suited to the game’s graphics and atmosphere. That the little orb you control offers some brief commentary on the side every so often is just icing on the cake.

Playing to the crowd

2 Comments

  1. I just got a chance to play this, and it was very interesting. Some of the mazes were insane (if a little difficult to figure out where the exit was), but it was enjoyable overall. What I found most interesting about it was that after playing a little while, I was able to find my way around for short bursts without bumping into any walls, which is true to life for me, since I can see reasonably well in the dark.

  2. I agree 100% with Alice. I took the time to play it and it is definitely a pleasant diversion. After seeing your breakdown of the first level, I thought I would be able to charge right through it, but the different layers cooperated in ways I had not anticipated, and I stumbled around for a little longer than expected. I really like those “jigsaw pieces coming together” moments, when a bunch of seemingly unrelated elements in a game suddenly mesh together incredibly well.

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