One of the most exciting things about conferences is the thrill of discovering something wonderful that you had no idea existed. While at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo on Sunday, I spent some time talking with Erik Johnson, Producer at Edmonton-based developer Infinite Monkeys, about their upcoming title; Life Goes On, a 48-hour game jam that has developed over time into what will be a full release next year on Steam.
Life Goes On is a Puzzle-Platformer in which you play as a knight who must traverse trap-filled levels to find treasure. What makes it unique is how death is a mechanic for progress — your character dies on spikes and his replacement uses his corpse as a platform to progress. Some levels require you to die many times in order to reach the treasure, and each ‘life’ is a newly named character. This game is reminiscent of the learn-from-dying concept of Super Meat Boy, as well as the physics and bone-crunching lethality of Limbo; two titles Johnson cites as influences.
The demo was playable on the show floor of Edmonton Expo, so I gave it a whirl. I have to admit I was astounded by how (pardon me for using this word, games writer gods) polished the whole thing is. It is incredibly easy to pick up and play, and the challenge lies in figuring out how to best kill your knights in service of beating the levels. Visually, it straddles the line between being cute/funny and creepy/horrifying as big-headed and earnest knights sit skewered on floor spikes. It is a very impressive look, and I am looking forward to seeing it expanded in later, more complex levels.
Not only is Infinite Monkeys adding content and fine-tuning to their game, but they are also including players into aspects of the development process. They will be taking submissions for names of knights featured, and are also capturing voices.
You see that yellow box with the tube behind Erik? They are using it to capture death screams from people at the convention and putting them into the game. All you needed to do is sign a waiver, and you were clear to let loose. I went with a ‘falling down a pit’ crossed with ‘I’m on fire’ pastiche… eat your heart out, Mr. Nolan North.