The recent weeks have been hectic for Spaces of Play. In september Spirits was presented at the Sense of Wonder Night Event at the Tokyo Game Show, and recently at the IndieCade in LA Spirits won the award for “Best Aesthetics”. In case you missed our post from few weeks back, Spirits is the new game from Spaces of Play, a game studio based in Berlin. With the Mr. Bounce behind them (we loved it), the team is set to release their new beautiful wonder within 2 weeks. The development kicked off around March this year, a number of months have passed and the team has been hard at work to get their new game out of the door. It’s very exciting as I have been closely following the development and have finally had a chance to play with the “almost” final version due for release in the next few weeks. So, what is Spirits?
Spirits is a Lemmings (wiki) inspired action-puzzle game for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, in which you manipulate wind and ground elements to guide the Spirits towards the goal. This is done with four different actions: Blow or block wind, dig tunnels and grow bridges of leaves. Besides the sound and music which are completely done with orchestral musical instruments, Spirits includes beautifully hand-drawn graphics which give the game a unique poetic feel. If you have seen Limbo, you will know exactly what this means. Foreground and background are played against one another, ie as you pan across your level they move in different speeds giving a sense of depth. Wind is represented using wonderfully light particles emitted both from the environment and spirits you assign this action to, all of this contributing to the beautiful environment to indulge and kill even most precious hours.
The game kicks off with simple few levels introducing you to different actions. Presented one at the time you go through each early levels learning one action after the other. This helps getting to know which action to use to achieve the goal. As you reach level 20 or so, you’ll find that having all the actions available to you just makes it harder to pick which action to use. You tap on a spirit to assign action. The spirit is paused while other spirits continue to do their thing. In some situations you’ll have to act quickly, assigning actions to multiple spirits one after the other. Failure to do it correctly will cost your some lives hoping that you have enough left to complete the level. There is a minimum number of spirits you have to get to the vortex (doors) and should you waste more spirits than you are allowed you’ll not be able to pass the level. The game continues nevertheless allowing you to practice and try new things knowing that next time you play you’ll know where to be more careful. Early levels require maybe 4-5 goes to get it right. Level 29, the one I am currently playing, I think I played over 10 times and still no clue how to complete. The game is getting increasingly more difficult past level 20. Where ways to get to the vortex may have been somewhat easy to resolve in the earlier levels, this is now way more tricky. Too much wind will plummet spirits into their deaths, wrong turn will point them in the wrong direction or hole dug in the wrong place will get your spirits stuck having to use addition spirits to get them out of the problem. There is plenty of variety between the levels to keep you wondering about how to complete it. I am yet to arrive to a level where I may use similar technique. Each one is unique and although I haven’t played them all, I find them all challenging enough and at times somewhat a relief when the solution is easy to find.
The “light” music, together with carefully illustrated environment and beautiful details give Spirits an elegant and light touch feel. Touching ghosts is like dipping you finger in warm milk, careful to each and every one. Spirits are no angry birds and although some of your gosts will die, you will feel sad and emotional wanting to save each and every one. There is so much attention to detail in this game that once you have finished it you will want to play it all over again – just for the looks. Considering there is also a score board, meaning each and every spirit counts towards your overall score (I am currently ranked 4 which I am sure this won’t last once the game is out) this should give you enough info to know how well you are doing. Also counting against your score are the plants you collected. In a lot of situations you’ll be able to complete the level without collecting all the plants so going back and going further will be something you want to do. I have been playing it for few days now, using every occasion I can regardless of whether it is 5 or 30 mins. Because the game is much about strategy as well correct play, every 5 minutes in the game is a step forward. Regardless of whether you are waiting for a bus or on a long journey, Spirits will definitely keep you entertained. If not completing the levels then trying out new strategies.
The game is schedules for submission tomorrow, meaning it will most probably be available in the AppStore within 2 weeks. Spirits will first appear on the iPad, followed by a release for the iPhone with support for iPhone 4 high res screen. We played with the iPhone version and although very similar to the iPad we expect to this be even more awesome on a retina display.
Made with Objective-C and C++.
Spaces of Play is a game studio based in Berlin. We are a group of independent game designers, visual artists and musicians that come together with the goal of creating great games. Our focus is on original ideas, gameplay and polish. We put our heart and soul into what we do, every pixel and sound bit has been hand-picked for your optimal experience. In short, we provide handcrafted independent games for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
Posted on: 31/10/2010