Commentary
12:30 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Your Move: The Big Sandbox

The Xbox and Playstation are great platforms for huge, cinematic, big-budget action games. However, the PC is a big sandbox for people who really want to experiment with the medium and make games that may be more art than game.

Save The Date is one of these. It’s a ‘visual novel’ – that is, it plays kind of like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.

It starts out simply. You get a call from a girl who wants to go to on a date with you. She asks what you’d like to eat – burgers, Thai, or tacos. You choose one of those and the story proceeds in the restaurant. You get to ask her a few personal questions, but then, seemingly out of nowhere, something happens and your date is killed. Game over.

The goal of the game, apparently, is to find a way to get through the night without her dying. When you play again, though, you’ll notice a new option, one telling her to step aside so she doesn’t get shot. The more you play the game, the more options you’ll be able to choose, and the further you’ll be able to go. I’m not going to say anything else out of fear of spoiling things, other than this game’s story really moves in some unexpected ways.

Tower of Heaven is a short side-scrolling platformer game with a twist: at the start of the game you receive the Book of Laws – rules that you must follow, lest you be smitten by the deity at the top of the tower you are climbing.

Each level adds a new, more restrictive Law into the game. At first, you must only complete the level in 30 seconds. Then, you must complete the level in 30 seconds AND never touch golden blocks. A few levels later, you are forbidden from walking left. After that, you can’t touch any living thing (including grass or butterflies).

The Laws seem arbitrary and uncomfortable, but you might just notice that a lot of games, especially the older side-scrolling games Tower of Heaven is riffing off of, have just as many rules that are just as arbitrary.

And as soon as the Laws make the game almost too hard to play – the Book of Laws is broken, and the game proves that, maybe, it’s time those gaming clichés are hung up and retired.

Save The Date: http://paperdino.com/games/save-the-date/

Tower of Heaven: http://askiisoft.com/games/tower-of-heaven/

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