Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Children of Apollo - Test Build

It's probably something to do with my warped - and somewhat overactive imagination - but it's amazing how the simple enemies in CargoCultGaming's Children of Apollo seem so very sinister.


Children of Apollo title screen
Look at that screen!!


I reckon it's primarily down to the way this intriguing 2D exploration shooter has been visually designed. The player, and the aforementioned enemies, are composed of simple pixel art shapes, plain white on a completely black background. This is perhaps interesting itself in today's hyper-artistic indie game market, but that's not what fascinates me. Oh no.

What makes Children of Apollo so beguiling is that the in-game view resembles watching footage through an old monitor. It curves at the edges. It flickers. The sides of the screen even wibble around, as if the signal is poor. It's a strange design choice, but a brilliant one considering the planet exploration setting.

Children of Apollo shooting
Yeah, I don't know what's happening...but is that the point?


You see, looking at that old screen, I can instantly believe that what I'm actually seeing is a video representation of an astronaut wandering around a planet and encountering weird aliens - aliens which could now be wildly different in the flesh as opposed to on-screen. Sure, the quality isn't great, but perhaps this is all I can see from a far-off space station - maybe I'm actually controlling some sort of weaponised, man-shaped robot on the planet's surface. 

Sometimes it amazes me what I can convince myself to be true.

It probably helps that in this very, very early build, I have no idea what is going on. I have a gun, which I can shoot continuously and seemingly forever. I can wander around and find strange creatures in a limited area and, because of that artistic design, get extremely creeped out by them beyond all reason and run screaming away in terror.

Children of Apollo enemy
Probably safer to stay in the circle...?


Maybe it's just me. Maybe I really do have an overactive imagination, and people are wondering why I've wasted time writing about it, when clearly I've gone slightly mad. Perhaps if anyone reads this, they'll pity the poor fool banging on about some simple pixels moving around on a screen.

But I'd like to think not. I think any game that can induce such a reaction is worth watching, and I'll certainly have one eye firmly on Children of Apollo. From a safe distance.

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