Review: Perspective (PC)

IoZwADeveloper: DigiPen Institute of Technology
Publisher: DigiPen Institute of Technology
Genre: Platforming/Puzzle
Platforms: PC
Release date: December 12, 2012
Price: $0.00 (Download here for free)
Perspective found its way to me through word-of-mouth.  I’d asked my friend if he knew of any games with creative mechanics.  He named a couple, but they were all well-known titles that I was already familiar with and had beaten. Chewing on the thought, he eventually pitched this beast from left field, and I immediately fell in love with it. Perspective isn’t your parent’s platforming game.  Mostly because it… isn’t a platforming game at all, really.  It moves like one, but the puzzle element outweighs any other aspect.  To think this was just a college project, designed and facilitated by a class of Juniors.  To think it would garner as much attention as it did.
To think it would be so enthralling.

Content Warning

There are no components of this game that could be gauged in a moral or ethical way.  That being said, this is an experimental game.  It isn’t aspiring to do anything other than create puzzles.

Gameplay

Perspective grants the player access to a 3-D camera, which allows for travel around the puzzle rooms.  However, the goal is to get your 2-D avatar from one end of the room to the other, where they reach a goal and are transferred to the next location.  Each room is filled with blue objects, which are solid and safe for your avatar to traverse; and orange objects, which are destructive and will reset your avatar to the last safe location.  The goal is to maneuver the camera angle to alter the size and location of the 3-D objects in relation to your avatar; thus, allowing him to be able to cross obstacles in 2-D without being destroyed.  Whenever the camera is in 3-D mode, the avatar is in a fixed location upon the wall and will grow in size according to how close or far away the player is, allowing him to make jumps that would otherwise seem absurd, or fit into impossibly small locations.
perspective-1

Notice the depth of that hallway? Doesn’t matter, because in 2-D mode, the blue connects into one, solid line. The avatar can walk straight across. This is one of the low-level challenges.

As the title suggests, it’s all a matter of perspective. I played through the game twice–the second time utilizing several tricks I didn’t know the first time. The developers don’t insult your intelligence; they also anticipated people would pick up on the mechanics quickly and thus established secondary obstacles and boundaries to stymie the player from taking cheap routes through the stages, such as falling along the ceiling (makes sense in-game). This revelation gives credence to the random bars and blocks along the walls and ceilings that didn’t make much sense to me the first time through.
You reach each new puzzles through an arcade nexus, which is navigated using the same methods as the puzzles themselves.  As each arcade game is beaten, new ones of progressively greater difficulty are unlocked. Eventually, the arcade itself is beaten, and you must then adventure through the puzzles of a main hub full of computers, which take your avatar to the most difficult puzzle locations.  Eventually, moving objects are added to each, further increasing the magnitude of the challenges, and you at last come to the final level: “The Machine.”
Where this game becomes truly memorable, though, is its ending.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I need to tell you enough to strike your interest.  When you defeat The Machine and the credits roll, you find your Avatar trapped within the credits of the game, endlessly looping.  Thinking it to be a glitch, you are practically forced to open the menu and exit the game.  Upon closing the program, well, that’s where the true mind-bending nature of Perspective comes home.  It is so strange and surreal that I literally didn’t know what was happening.
But it was perfect.

Presentation

The graphics are simple, but keenly rendered for optimal gaming enjoyment.  The player-controlled Avatar is the only character in the game, and it’s little more than a few dozen polygons meshed together into the likeness of a person wearing a full-body cyberpunk suit.  Nearly the entire game consists of only a handful of colors: blue, orange, and the dark space in-between them.  If you look closely at the colored panels that make up each puzzle, you can see threads of light swimming beneath their glassy textures, illuminating the arcade and central hub where you find each new challenge.
Perspective_C

Your avatar in the Arcade.

The audio is rudimentary and not worth much attention.  The range of required sounds are thin, and so the cache available is appropriately small, with only sounds for entering new stages, accidental avatar destruction, completing a stage, and jumping.
The music is interesting, not in that it’s unique or impressive, but because when the player decides to swap from 3-D mode to 2-D mode, the looping, electronic ambiance is endowed with a complimentary drum beat.  This drum beat fulfills what seems “missing” from the music as you play, and disappears again every time you return to 3-D mode.  Regardless, the music in Perspective is simple and rather redundant, especially if you get stuck on a puzzle.  More time could have been put into this part of the game, though the electronic rendition of “Fur Elise” that plays in the central hub is pretty eerie.

Conclusion

Because Perspective was just an experiment by a group of university students, I don’t expect it will ever be realized as a larger game or be given any sort of sequel.  While some might find this a sad fact, it’s probably for the best.  As it stands, this is one of the most impressive, puzzle-solving, indie games I’ve ever encountered.  The unique nature of its creation, not at the hands of a licensed developer, but by a class full of bright, creative students, gives it a peculiar flavor and feeling of hope for the future of the video game industry.  Certainly worth checking out, if only because it’s free, though I’m sure you’ll find more to love about it than the price tag would have you suspect.

The Bottom Line

 

 

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Cooper D Barham

Aspiring author, marriage and family therapist, and active behavioral health technician, Cooper fills his world with God, music, videogames, anime/manga, drawing, reading, writing, and some physical stuff in between. If you ever want to talk about the big or little things of life, fire him a message. Helping others through tough times is both his passion and way of living. 'Got it memorized?'

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