2013 IGF Finalists: Excellence in Audio

Wondering what the most promising indie games might be? Have no fear. Each day this week we are covering a different category of IGF finalists and why they deserve to be played.

Audio is an under-appreciated art form in the gaming industry. It can scare, excite, and intrigue us, but most players only really recognize audio when something goes wrong. That’s why Excellence in Audio is such a great category. These games show us that you can match good audio with good mechanics in a way that does not detract from either one. So sit down, plug in some nice headphones, and lose yourself in the sound.

140

Platformers are everywhere in the IGF, and it’s no surprise that a platformer was nominated for Excellence in Audio. What is surprising, however, is that 140 is unique. I’ve never played a game quite like this one, although it does take concepts from other music-heavy titles like Lumines. With a minimal aesthetic and excellent use of audio, 140 is definitely deserving of the finalist nomination.

140, as mentioned, is a very minimal game. This extends to any sort of reason to play. Rather than bothering the player with nonsense like “setting,” you are simply thrust into a world of clean lines and solid colors. A beat gently pulses in the background, and floating overhead are orbs that transport you into different worlds for you to test your platforming mettle. This is one of the few true minimalist games I’ve played, and everything is carefully calculated to make sure that there isn’t a single superfluous element.

The excellence in audio comes from the way the game layers tracks over each other. Every time you pick up a two-tone orb and take it to the slot it fits into, the music track in the background adds a new layer and the gameplay gets slightly more complex. The new mechanics also tie into the audio, as they follow the beats of the song. Thus, in order to progress, you must pay attention to the song and time your platforming to the beats. 140 is currently being prepared for release this year.

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