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Free and Worth Every Penny - Issue 22

It's Black Friday, and man do I have a deal for you.  Just for reading this - just for being here - you get a game for FREE!  For nothing.  Nada.  Zero dollars.  Gratis.  On the house.  It's comped.  And you didn't even have to get up at 4AM and wait in a big line!  Do I know how to treat you guys or what?

It appears that I've been on a speed kick with my free games, of late.  You may remember that in Issue 20, I brought you RunMan, the heartwarming story of a little star-shaped dude who wanted nothing more in the world than to run like the wind; to get the high score; to win the race.

Igneous, on the other hand, is a slightly less heartwarming but considerably more pulse-pounding story about a tiki totem who wakes up one day to find that his entire world is collapsing in fire and brimstone, and if he doesn't seriously book it, he is toast so move your ass.  It's like RunMan, as directed by Michael Bay.

Whipped up by a group of seniors of the Digipen Institute of Technology (for more products of Digipen students, check here), Igneous is about tension, and panic, and looking really good, and sort of about physics, but primarily it's about speed.  Out of control, oh-God-where-do-I-go-now, just-barely-surviving-each-jump speed.  Did you play Mirror's Edge?  (If not... play Mirror's Edge.)  Remember the parts where Faith would be running from 20 soldiers, and a helicopter, and you knew that stopping meant instant death so you just threw caution to the wind and ran, taking each jump as it came and praying that you landed somewhere safe?  Igneous is a whole game of just that.  Those prone to anxiety need not apply.

If there's a distinct problem with this sort of level design, it's that it can become overwhelming.  When everything is a huge overblown spectacle, overblown spectacle quickly loses its impact.  Luckily, Igneous is polite enough not to overstay its welcome - it's a tasty dessert of a game, over after just three insane levels, leaving you perhaps not feeling exactly sated but definitely glad you indulged.  The last level does lend itself a bit to requiring memorization, but with a game this short I can't really complain.  "Normal" and "Impossible" difficulties are offered - on Normal, the game is lenient with letting your tiki make some missteps and still survive, but on Impossible, you'll need to be pretty much flawless, especially on the last stage.

A final note: this game is beautiful.  Not "for a free game", just beautiful, period.  Colored lighting and heat distortion are used to great effect to represent the crumbling volcano you're rushing through, and the physics system allows everything to fall apart around you, creating new paths and destroying old ones in an instant.  Screenshots really can't do it justice; you should see this game in motion.  The developers recommend an XBox 360 gamepad, as do I (sadly, other gamepads won't work unless you have key-mapping software), but mouse and keyboard can be used if that's what you have.

Igneous is:

  • blazingly fast.
  • incredibly pretty.
  • quite the challenge, on "Impossible".
  • a bit of a tech demo, but well worth your time.

Igneous is for Windows PC's - go check it out here.

"Free And Worth Every Penny" is a column I collaborate on with Mike Bellmore at Immortal Machines. This piece also appears there.

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