GLITCHSPACE

PrintE-mail Written by Ben K

We wanted to like Space Budgie’s Glitchspace but it became more of a chore than a game. It’s an interesting premise: you are trapped alone in a computerised landscape and given the programming tools to help you escape. Progression means getting from point A to point B, which you accomplish through reprogramming (or coding) red blocks. Combine its puzzle-focused gameplay with a Tron-like setting, and it sounds like a formula for success. Unfortunately, the coding is not as cool as it should be, and the game lacks any kind of personality. What sounds interesting on the surface rapidly becomes a frustrating and dull exercise exacerbated by its gimmick.

There’s an obvious similarity to Portal, so I’ll get it out of the way early. But where Portal managed to create a setting that you wanted to explore and conquer, Glitchspace simply plonks you down and tells you, ‘Go’. In so doing, it becomes 100 per cent focussed on making you reprogram red blocks and learning the ‘code’ of the game. You are in a simple 3-D landscape, which is arranged in a linear fashion. Most of the inert structures are white and bluish grey, and initially your red blocks – the very vehicles by which you progress – dot the landscape at prescribed points.

You have a tool/gun, which is your means of interacting. Right click on a red block and you open a programming window – a null canvas. Within this, you can adjust the block’s positioning. As you progress, you gain more tools that alter everything from orientation to transparency to making it bouncy. You are even given the ability to create your own blocks. And yes, the possibilities to successfully navigate a puzzle become numerous. But the coding is so facile that it struggles for complexity by simply adding tool after tool. It’s programming in the sense that you are telling the game how you want your blocks to act, granted. Though hanging the game’s premise on being a first-person coder seems a mighty stretch.

As the puzzles progress, they become more irritating than challenging. Conjuring elaborate schemes to reach your objective, it often devolves into an exercise in trial and error rather than the application of clever thought. The only real depth comes in the new tools, which just add complexity rather than weight. Giving up on a puzzle doesn’t fuel a period of intellectual introspection – more so a dawning, gloomy realisation that you’ve got to give it another go to get to the next bit. When you successfully get by a puzzle in Glitchspace, you feel relieved instead of satisfied.

There is a lot that you should like about Glitchspace, and its programming angle is sure to appeal to a niche of geek gamers. As a package, though, its coding focus never really seems to gel – there is something inherently rudimentary and bland about the entire presentation. The campaign is a few hours long, and when you’re done with that, there is a sandbox mode to get wacky and creative. Being a low-priced indie title, you can’t really go wrong – if you are intrigued by the coding mechanic, then by all means give it a whirl. Just take Glitchspace’s claims of programming freedom with a generous pinch of salt.

GLITCHSPACE / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: SPACE BUDGIE / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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