Monday, September 27, 2010

Feign and Perspective

“Feign” by Ian Snyder is another game I’ve found via and while I wouldn’t heartily recommend this to everyone it does something that is rarely seen in video games today, it plays with perspective. “Feign” is a 3D maze game (like the kind you may have played on Mac or PC back in your youth, really they were more like screensavers than games) where you search for bodies as you go further into the confusing, neon passages. Only that’s a lie, the truth is the entire game takes place on a single black plane and as you move around the walls (and your perspective) change.

This can be confusing, and it is. Some aesthetic choices made by Snyder make it very difficult to navigate. But the core game design is brilliant. You could say that the player is moving through a maze, or you could say that the maze is shifting around the player, or you could say both. Video games do not have to be chiseled into stone like early forms of art do. They can be told as a liquid medium, formless and flowing.

The boundaries of “Feign” are vague, the first thing you figure out to do is “enter” the maze, but when you go into the small room seen above, you are greeted by a much larger labyrinth. Some rooms (you could call them) are open air regions. But you have not walked down a flight of stairs or out of a building to get there. All you did was walk through a door way and really you are in the same black space you’ve been wandering the entire game. The game plays with perspective. While that can make it more challenging or confusing at times, it is something no other medium can do.

A tiny room can be massive. This is true in film and literature, but you cannot personally explore it in them. A tiny room which secret hides tunnels and skyscrapers for you to spend hours exploring is something completely unique to this medium. Most games don’t bother with changing perspectives, they tend to have very real-world paths and real-world logic, neglecting the extraordinary nature of their world.

Maybe “Feign” wasn’t my favorite game in the universe, but it is an interesting experiment none-the-less, and if you want to enjoy some kind of frustrating, kind of fascinating exploration then check it out in the link below.


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