While Freeware Friday doesn’t normally do downloadable games, I’m always open to suggestions by fans, especially when the game in question is an especially interesting bit of atmospheric platforming that asks the question, “What goes on inside the lines of data in an alpha-stage game?” Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Alphaland
Your friend is a game programmer, working on the early stages of his game. Since you’re his friend, you agreed to test out the alpha. He hasn’t finished the graphics, music, or anything else, so you’ll just be testing the jumping mechanic and an early stage. You boot up the game, start the first level, head towards the exit… and then things go wrong. You are suddenly thrust into a world of scattered code and errors. Curious, you journey further to discover where this rabbit hole leads, but what you find might shock you.
If this sounds interesting, then go and play Alphaland right now; any further information would spoil the experience. This is a game that is heavy on atmosphere and little on story, so I’ll keep the review short so you can head to Newgrounds and play this little gem. In this game, you are traversing a program that is in its infancy; objects aren’t finalized and all the measurements that are normally hidden in game programs are on full display (position on the x and y-axis, for example) and even play an important role in the gameplay. Not to mention, since the sound isn’t finished, there is a creepy ambient noise in the background…in terms of atmosphere (and not spoiling some of the bigger surprises), Alphaland provides a disturbing little atmosphere without being outright scary.
The gameplay is also pretty interesting. Since this is an alpha of a platformer, you have no weapons or alternate forms of movement aside from moving left to right and jumping. However, due to the scattered data and errors, this won’t be enough to get you to the end. To fully explore this domain, you’ll need to find power-ups that increase your jump height and give you other abilities or solve the puzzles scattered throughout game. Speaking of the puzzles, they are a delight to solve. They involve you looking at those previously mentioned measurements and finding out what you need to do to manipulate them to do things like open doors or change… things (hey, that would be spoiling). The puzzles involve being observant of the measurements and will have you testing your deductive abilities. All in all, some solid gameplay and puzzles.
Okay, the problem with this game is that it depends mostly on its atmosphere and how effectively it entices the player, something which is really hard to comment on or rate objectively. Also, since this game gets its full effect on the first play-through, I can’t tell you about those sections without spoiling the game. On the other hand, Alphaland is a game with an interesting setting and solid gameplay that I highly recommend to everyone and a conclusion that is surprisingly moving.
So, I know this week was pretty short and that it was a reposting of an old blog post. There’s several reasons for this: school, my personal life, etc. However, there is another reason. Next week I am going to talk about a game that has plagued me since I started writing this series of articles back on the forums–a game I beat and then tried to forget about. Want to know what the game is? Well tune in next week when we look at “AH-deahn-haaem TEaeee-kuk-ra-deahn” (sound it out, translate it, and then smack your forehead when you figure it out).
Freeware Friday is a series by Gabriel B. that focuses on exemplerary (or sometimes just plain weird) entries into the freeware genre of indie games.