Nitrome seems to have a penchant for alternate identities. The first game that put them on my radar was Gunbrick, a puzzling shooter about a gun…that was also a brick! Now, they’ve mounted a Steam Greenlight effort to approve Flightless, a puzzle platformer centered around ducks…who moonlight as thieves! To be quite honest, I’m beginning to wonder if this developer even lives in a Nitro Dome!
All suspicion aside (for now), fans of old fashioned running and jumping are going to want to pay attention to this one. Premised on the idea that you’re a duck who’s had their wings clipped in penance for stealing, Flightless sends you on a gem-driven mission to pay back the value of what you’ve taken. The catch? Doing so requires you to navigate a monster-filled cavern, unlocking access to more shiny tickets to freedom for every group you collect. Think of it as PETA‘s Worst Nightmare: The Game.
And while stomping on baddies is in no short supply, the clever crux of Nitrome’s latest revolves around a common household item: a ladder. Seemingly inspired by by Spelunky’s rope system, you can deploy a magical ladder at any moment using the space bar; one which will extend as far up the screen as it’s able to before it hits a platform or wall. The result is an experience that questions platforming’s core assumption of carefree offensiveness, forcing you to rethink how you approach movement around a confined space, and interaction with objects. Structurally simple rooms become miniature puzzles, replicating in brief the wonderful experience delivered by Portal. Step one: dissect the motions in your head; step two: excute your plan.
But don’t take my word for it (even though I’ll be hurt and distraught)! Nitrome has made the ingenious decision to offer a taste of Flightless as a flash game to earn your discerning “Yes” clicks. Tantalizingly, it will take you from the basics, through the introduction of switches and timed buttons, all the way up to ladder-bending arrows, before cutting you off at the first major boss fight. From there, the game’s (PC & Mac) fate is in your hands. At the time of writing, I haven’t yet tested out the game’s synchronous 2-player mode, but Flightless boasts a drop-in-drop out co-op component that allows for friendly gem hunting both in the same room of the cave, and – for differently paced explorers – separate zones.
It seems like every other day we hear about a game promising to revisit classic genres, but one look at Nitrome’s website makes it clear that this is a studio poised to deliver on that promise. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to see them make the jump from bite-sized experience to full-fledged adventure.
Greenlight Spotlight is a featured series on Gamezebo that profiles Steam Greenlight candidates that deserve your vote. We’re doing this in the hopes of calling attention to interesting projects that would benefit from distribution on Steam, so please, if a game looks like something you’d want to play, don’t hesitate to lend it your support!