The dutch have a pretty good thing going in the gaming industry, and a lot of what they’ve been putting out has given me a reason to nod with confident approval. Excamedia is another dutch developer, and their game – A Clumsy Adventure – does anything but fall flat on its face. Still in Pre-Alpha, its platforming charm and unique design leave me wondering what lies beyond the curtain at the end of the preview build on Indie Database.
In A Clumsy Adventure, you play as Zack, a clumsy soldier taking part in VR training. He manages to destroy a supercomputer and gets discharged. Not a huge fucking surprise, considering supercomputers usually run into the millions. So this guy is off to a shitty start. Zack is kidnapped by a secret group of aliens and he is used to brainwash the entire human population. From the description on the company site, it seems he is possibly the dumbest person on Earth. Nice fucking job, Zack! At least you don’t spell your name with an ‘h’. Our whole world defenseless, Zack can’t remember what happened, likely repressing the memories of how he rendered the collective grey matter of the human race as cognitively effective as rice pudding. And the best part? This fucking guy has to save the world! The ENTIRE world! IN FOUR FUCKING DAYS!!!! This is the most terrifying apocalypse story I have ever heard. He ends up in a dark place, with only one friend: a light that follows and guides him. To succeed, this fucking guy has to beat the generals of the alien army and steal their dimensional keys, then stop the evil alien emperor AND his alien fleet from destroying everything anyway!
Zack has a lot to put back together, but on the bright side it can’t get much worse. Despite his inhabiting the least-envied place among heroes, the game itself looks and feels pretty nice. In the pre-alpha, you drop out of the sky and land in a jungle fraught with chaos. In the background, massive beasts stalk through the dank undergrowth, redeyes dart between trees and the howls of unknown origin resonate for miles. It is a scenery well set. It isn’t long before the tutorial is delivered via internal monologue. I always find it weird when we are led to believe that a character jumps by thinking about a green A-button, but it always makes me giggle.
After pushing around a boulder, jumping up some ledges and running around, you start to get a feel for the controls. Everything is fairly simple and, mostly, smooth. Granted, you have those odd little hiccups, but the game reeled me in and didn’t stop until the curtain (quite literally) fell. One of the most noticeable elements of this game is its use of the lighting in Unity. Now, I am not a fucking developer, I’m just not that dedicated. I took the easy way out and became a writer. But this game honestly uses Unity like the swatch-board of lighting and color that it deserves to be noticed for. I saw screenies made with Unity that I thought were taken from an unannounced Elder Scrolls title (lord knows the series will need to be resurrected after ESO). Richard Garriott favorited that tweet. Made my knees weak. But Unity honestly has so much more to offer than just an overwhelming deluge of apps and mobile games. Unity is an engine with so much untapped potential, and A Clumsy Adventure is reaching deep into that pool and procuring something magnificent.
The game goes from nearly 2D, accomplished by silhouetting everything, then it switches to a world of vibrant colors and magnificent flora. Ironically, this switch comes from outside, where it is dark, to inside caves, where the character becomes the focus and light and colors abound. Granted, the artistic silhouetting has the effect of bringing out the colors of enemies and pickups. Pickups come in two forms, only one of which I’ve been able to get: the backpacks and the batteries. The backpacks are lives, I think. I am not certain be cause I always freak out when I get surprised by the occasional enemy. Given their size, I imagine that they come with a full trauma center complete with defibrillators and flirty, blonde nurses. There are also the batteries, which luminesce an ethereal green. While it is possible these have a yet unstated link to the aliens, I like to imagine they will power the radioactive Nerf guns Zack must inevitably employ to vanquish the evil alien emperor. A lot of the simple jumping puzzles that the devs employed in this pre-alpha preview also utilized strong deviousness. I am excited to see where else they will go with this title in the future.
This game has a feel that reminds me of Earthbound for reasons I cannot explain. Though I doubt this game will have the same vaguely off-color pop-culture references, there is still much we can expect A Clumsy Adventure to provide. All of it good, but mostly me getting pissed off at this. I guess I should look on the bright side, Zack spends his whole adventure making up for the fact that he blundered his way into subjugating the human race, and there isn’t an evil dictator that could accomplish this with all his efforts. Toss a few coins at it once the kickstarter takes off and watch this one. I have a feeling it should blow your minds.