Puzzle platformers are very common, I know, and when I went to the Seattle Indies expo that runs during PAX West I was expecting to see quite a few and wasn't surprised to encounter a plethora of them. What I was not expecting was the quality of them, and one of these games in particular took me by surprise.
Called Mike Dies
, it revels in the fact that the player will die very quickly as they try to fathom how the game is played. Very little is revealed to them, as Psydra Games has assumed a lot on the part of the player in terms of prior knowledge. This is something that is becoming increasingly prevalent in video game development and the unapologetic nature of Mike Dies
says a lot by not insulting the intelligence of the player.
has the player controlling a character called Greg...
...Actually, no, he's called Mike and he finds himself stranded on a planet of unknown terrors which you're charged with guiding Mike through. Each level has a matter transporter that Mike must fully envelope themselves in. As the transporter triggers, if any part of Mike is dangling outside the transporter he dies. There are also beams of energy that change from being harmful to benign and the player must guide Mike through these beams or else he will become toast.
Essentially, pretty much everything is out to kill Mike and puzzles must be solved and platform sections navigated using skill and dexterity to get through.
The character of Mike can be moved using a jetpack, which he can use to hover and extend his jumps a little, but it does have limited power so if you stay in the air for too long Mike will fall pretty quickly. There are other puzzles involving clones of Mike that appear in the past and/or future that require the player to use lateral thinking to exploit and overcome levels with.
The way in which Mike is drawn is at odds with the world he inhabits. While he is a cartoon-like figure, everything else is more realistic in its rendering. This is clearly deliberate on the part of the developer as it differentiates Mike from the rest of the screen and thus aids the player. The sound effects are excellent in Mike Dies
. In particular, when he meets his
demise there is a satisfying crunching sound as he gets obliterated.
I really liked Mike Dies
and spoke at length with the developer of it at Seattle Indies. It's a terrific game that deserves people's attention and I hope it gets that upon its released on Windows PC later this year.