It’s not often that somebody comes up with a completely new approach to game design. Sure, there are tweaks to control systems and minor adjustments in perspective, but it’s rare that a developer challenges our assumptions about what we want from games.
Subtlabs is just such a developer. Inspired by a childhood bet between two brothers, the studio’s first game, Save Blaza, is an exercise in concentration and endurance rather than fast thrills and addictive incentive loops.
But first, here’s the story. Blaza is an alien from another planet who looks suspiciously like a dog from this planet. During a space flight his ship is damaged by a mystery object and he plummets to earth, leaving behind him a floating trail of snacks.
Your job is to guide Blaza home through ten epic levels. Hopefully you’ll learn who the hell sabotaged his ship along the way.
This may sound like a fairly standard premise for a casual arcade game on mobile, but this one has a twist. The emphasis is on endurance rather than skill.
Subtlabs even has a formula for it: Game satisfaction = (Time x Focus) + Reward. What this means is that if a player spends a long time completing a stage, and has to concentrate throughout, and they get something cool for reaching the end, they’ll experience significant game satisfaction. And we all love game satisfaction.
Each of Save Blaza’s ten levels is a test of endurance, at the end of which, if all goes to plan, you’ll get a gratifying hit of adrenaline.
Interestingly, you don’t get sent back to the beginning if you die – you just start again with all your points docked, because Subtlabs doesn’t want to undercut its own message that you’ll reach the end as long as you keep your head down and persevere.
There are some revolutionary ideas going on in Save Blaza, and you can test them for yourself by downloading the game right now on the App Store.