Rick’s been playing games since before he could walk. I went from an NES to a PS3 with nothing in between. We love to game together, but finding games we can both enjoy can be tough. Indie Game Date is our quest to find great indie games that both of us will love.
Since it’s Indie Games Uprising time, Rick and I decided to check out the offerings for this week’s Video Game Date. At the time we sat down to play, there were only 3 games released: qrth-phyl, Sentensia & Diehard Dungeon. Since I still suck at video games, roguelike punisher Diehard Dungeon was definitely out (although Rick reserves his right to revisit it on his own at a later date). Self-styled “art game” Sentensia had been pretty universally panned. So that left experimental 3D snake-like game qrth-phyl.
As soon as I mentioned it to Rick his eyes lit up. “Snake? I LOVE Snake! I know so much about the history of video games! I’m a REAL gamer, so I love Snake!” (Okay, maybe I added those last two lines, but let’s just agree that they were implied.) The promise of 3D gameplay was more intriguing than anything else, as was the sort of neon-minimalist aesthetic, but since he’s a big fan of Pac-Man Championship Edition I figured he could handle it.
The game starts innocently enough. You control a yellow neon snake thing that passes through a hole in a blue neon grid. From there’s it’s standard Snake action, with you collecting blocks until the white grid in the lower right hand corner is filled. There are obstacles that generate randomly and certain blocks that generate new laser obstacles. However, it’s once that bottom grid is filled that things get really trippy.
See, the game alternates between the standard 2D style snake gameplay and tripped out 3D play inside of a cube. There’s no separate control for the camera in this mode, which can be pretty disorienting and the minimalist, ambient techno score add to the feeling that you’re sort of floating around in the Matrix. I only managed to clear about 3 stages in my playthrough, which was 3 more than Rick figured I would, so I guess I’m not as crappy as we’d assumed.
Despite the addition of obstacles and lasers, the game still manages to have an almost zen-like feel. Not to say that it’s easy. Especially those 3D parts. It’s essentially a score attack game, like the classic game it’s paying homage to, so the lack of leaderboards is rather puzzling. But all in all, I’d say this one was well worth the $1 spent regardless of whether you grew up with Snake or not.