Have you ever wanted somebody to make a game based on the intro level to Mario 2 where you fly into the right side of screen and come out the left? Well a bunch of students over at Digipen have done just that with their most recent project called The Fourth Wall.
The Fourth Wall follows the adventure of a wizard boy to become a Gandalf-like figure in this unique Puzzle/Platformer. The unique gameplay element is this blue aura that outlines the screen and locks it so you come out one side of the screen by going in the opposite side, much like this one episode of Star Trek: TNG “Where Silence Has Lease” (at 23:54 if you have a NetFlix account). As the game progresses your wizard ages and gains the ability to control the blue aura. This allows for further manipulation of the levels and for some quite remarkable visual puzzles. The game isn’t horribly difficult and can be completed in about ten minutes, but a few of the puzzles hit the same part of my brain that lights up when I solved a particularly nasty puzzle in Portal 1 or 2.
In order to spice up the variety in the game, lava pits and black pigs that act as moving trampolines act to help and hinder you. The lessons you learn are given out in a precise way that has you learning the tricks of the game while never feeling overwhelmed. Both the visuals and audio are mostly minimalist, only ever showing real variety near the end of the game with a song written by one of the students of the project that’s actually pretty good.
The Fourth Wall is a great sidestep in exposing a neat little gameplay element that has laid dormant in this age of third person/fps shooters and hopefully will be utilized in a bigger project in the future. You can download The Fourth Wall here and learn more about it at The Fourth Wall’s blog.