|The clean, Flash-esque visuals really work to ITSP's advantage.|
It’s been just over a week, and the second and third instalments of Summer of Arcade have been released, so let’s go take a look at them, shall we?
First off, I’ll quickly run over From Dust, which came out last week as Episode 2 of the Summer of Arcade. I heard good things, and comparisons to god-game classics such as Black & White and Populous, but in practice, From Dust just doesn’t feel compelling. Playing as an omnipotent being, you manipulate earth, water and fire in order to guide your villagers to totems, or to locations where they can learn rituals. I didn’t feel as if I connected with my tribesmen, and that was the core of my problem with the game. By not clicking with my quarry, I felt no strong desire to watch them succeed. This is not helped by their recycled animations, which serve to further fail to make the player identify with them.
|From Dust feels more like a game mechanic than a game.|
Now, on to the main course: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is this week’s release as part of Xbox’s Summer of Arcade campaign, and, in my opinion, the best one so far.
Drawing comparisons to exploration-based games such as Metroid, Castlevania and even Ecco The Dolphin, the game places you in control of a tiny spaceship, wending your way through the titular planet, solving puzzles in order to collect artifacts and progress. The game is visually very cute, looking something like a cute-infused cross between Limbo and Outland.
|The game excellently combines monochrome foregrounds|
and colour backgrounds.
Difficulty, however, is not the name of the game here. ITSP is about exploration through visually-pleasing scenery, and it simply excels in achieving these aims. In my short time with it (and the game is short), I loved flying around in my floating ship, grabbing objects with my arm, and shooting threats with my Fifties-Science-Fiction-sounding laser gun. The ship is brilliantly anthropomorphised and I found it to be even reminiscent of how Pixar similarly fared with Wall-E.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is certainly not the most taxing game I’ve played, but the combination of the cute visuals, a 1950s-esque spaceship and a very responsive control system make it a highly enjoyable experience. Even if it may not be rewarding on your brain, it is certainly a sight for sore eyes. Of the three Summer of Arcade titles to date, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet gets my vote.