When we interviewed Jeep Barnett, the father of Narbacular Drop & Portal a while back he said that the big killer if indie or student game projects is to implement a million mechanics at once at hamfistedly try to get the player to use all of them. And that one of Portal’s defining features was that it only really had a single, unique mechanic – and made as much use of it as possible.
Many of the best small/independent games flourish under this idea, recent examples being Braid, Magicka and The Unfinished Swan. And it looks to me like Son of Nor has the potential to join them as another memorable masterwork of a small studio.
My attraction to Still Alive Studios‘ latest endeavour comes from how clearly the game revolves around it’s telekinesis mechanic: You use it to fight and solve puzzles not just by throwing stuff around, but through manipulating the environment and elements around you to suit your needs.
The ability to terraform pits and towers of sand to trap your enemies, build walls and elevate yourself to higher ground is the kind of thing I’ve wanted to see since From Dust and Spore showed me that while playing God is fun, it can make you feel seriously detached from characters you’re helping – who are usually too stupid or stoic to help themselves at all, or to like in any way.
You can also harness the classical elements (Fire, Wind ect) to empower the things you levitate give them new properties.
In fact the trailer footage shows so much slaying of the Sarahul (lizardmen enemy empire) that I’m beginning to feel bad for the little guys. They must have “pushed humanity to the brink of extinction” somehow though, so I’ll look forward to seeing what tricks they have up their scaly sleeves.
Or if the concept art is anything to go off, what other creatures this desert is going to throw at the players.
My main bugbear besides the not yet seen balancing of the game is that the devs have said the game will have a “new, original world with rich backstory and lore”, but the details are just not out there just yet.
Still Alive plan to have a rather traditional setup; with 8 hours of gameplay, multiple locations from cities to temples, multiplayer co-op, 6 story chapters and a boss after the conclusion of each. But for now we’re just going to have to wait to find out what the lore entails.
While you can pre-order the game for $20 from their Kickstarter page, some of the higher tier backing rewards are pretty intriguing: The $300 purchase in particular, which includes the Emotiv EPOC headset, allowing you to immerse yourself and control aspects of the game with your actual mind! Effectively turning the game into a telekinesis simulator.
Between the terraforming and the EPOC, the game is looking like an interesting thing to build – so hardcore fans and game design students may be interested in the above video, which is one of the many dev diaries that have been made over the course of the project.
The game just looks so good and fresh to me that I’m really hoping the team’s Kickstarter Goal is met, and that the game comes out as good as it’s potential promises it to be.
To help that process along, you can donate to the Kickstarter here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stillalivestudios/son-of-nor-the-world-is-your-weapon
And you can follow the progress here:
Facebook: Still Alive Studios
Twitter: Still Alive Studios | Son of Nor
YouTube: Still Alive Studios
IndieDB: Son of Nor
or on the official Still Alive Studios Website