sun 23/11/2014

Fibrillation/Thirty Flights of Loving | Gaming reviews, news & interviews

Fibrillation/Thirty Flights of Loving

An atmospheric, immersive horror game ruined by intrusive voiceover, and a thrilling rollercoaster ride

The grainy and confusing landscapes of a hypoxic mind: Fibrillation

Ruinous is a harsh word to wield against any artistic decision. However, the Russo/American voiceover chosen by Igor Rezenov to accompany his new PC game Fibrillation, no other printable judgement is strong enough. The game itself is a brief but beautifully atmospheric horror designed to be played in a single sitting. Your comatose character wanders through the grainy and confusing landscapes of his hypoxic mind, attempting to find a way out of the various catacombs, and to flee a terrifying entity which stalks him.

As you move through doorways into warehouse storage rooms, geometric mazes and up and down more stairs than an MC Escher painting, you are constantly haunted by the sound of your own heartbeat, laboured breathing and by sudden, blinding flashes of the world your body is currently dying in. But you are also haunted by one of the most intrusive and inappropriate voiceovers ever included in a video game. It's tantamount to having an obnoxious American sitting next to you in the cinema and talking loudly into your ear, ruining even the most beautiful moments of the game.

And this game is beautiful, both in concept and design - from the spiritual and philosophical metaphors of the scenery to the atmospherically soft and crescendo music, from the fluttering moths to the haranguing crows, and the wonder of simply being able to close your eyes like a frightened child when you’re terrified. In fact Fibrillation at certain points actually requires you to give up, either by closing your eyes (by holding the left mouse button), or stopping in your tracks and looking back the way you have come. Only once you have given up trying to run blindly forwards does the game allow you to proceed. 

It's a shame about the grating bleets that jerk you right out of the atmosphere of the game, which could have been edited out in a heartbeat. But if you can withstand the verbal intrusions, Fibrillation is an imaginative and immersive out-of-body experience which is certainly worth a go.

  • Fibrillation is developed and published by Egor Rezenov and is out now. Platform: PC

 

Thirty Flights of Loving ****

 

There comes a point during Thirty Flights of Loving - perhaps around the time you’re pushing around a Mexican suffering from serious gunshot wounds on an airport luggage trolley - when you have to ask yourself "how did I get into this mess?". It’s a question that is never fully answered in this new release from micro-development company Blendo Games which, over the course of 10 to 15 minutes, thrusts you (one Citizen Able) into a cubic catacomb of crime and carnage on a par with a Mission Impossible adventure.

Released as a sequel to the equally succinct and thrilling Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights of Loving takes place in an obscure Spanish-Germanic future where prohibition is law, police cameras float around crowds attached to balloons, and where spoken language is eschewed in favour of garbled vowel sounds. Given mere hints as to who, where and what you are, the player is taken on a rollercoaster ride, shuttling through the past and present of an underground operation gone horribly wrong.

The process of getting shoved to and fro in the blink of an eye can be highly disconcerting, even irritating at first. Just as you begin to think you are getting somewhere, the game snaps you away and plonks you somewhere else. But you soon realise that you are just along for the ride and that this game requires you to follow it where it leads. And judging by the gunshot wounds of your compadres, it can’t lead anywhere good.

There is an inherent pressure on developers of short but highly creative games like this to make a "proper game" out of the format, but that would be missing the point of these vignettes, which is to create something short, misleadingly simple and artistically experimental relatively quickly. And to remind the big hitters of game development how things can and ought to be done.

  • Thirty Flights of Loving is developed and published by Blendo Games and is out now; Platform: PC
Shame about the grating bleets that jerk you right out of the atmosphere of the game

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