Daily Independent: Pay What You Want for Minimalist Beauty in Fotonica

The Daily Independent is a recurring feature in which we shine a light into the darkened wilderness of indie gaming, illuminating both the good and the bad of what we find there.

You only get one button to control Fotonica, but that’s also all you need. Your only function: run. Keep running. Run as far as you can, as fast as you can, and when you can’t run anymore, jump.

Fotonica is a free-to-play casual title placing you in the first-person role of a Rez-like construct of polygons roughly in the shape of a human. All you can see of yourself are your polygonal hands — all you know of yourself is your mandate to run down the game‘s straight paths. To run, you hold down any button on keyboard or mouse. Done.

As you progress, you’ll find need of the ability to jump, but just releasing the run button allows you to throw yourself into the air and soar to the next path. In fact, your jumping is lofty to a degree that would make Master Chief and Neil Armstrong jealous, which is why holding the run button again allows you to kill your floatiness and drop to the ground. Together, the three functions — running, jumping and landing — give you just enough control to keep from plummeting to your death on each of Fotonica’s five stages as you try to dodge gaps in the paths and jump up and down to different areas.

You’re scored in each stage by your speed, which is determined basically by not dying and by making strong, fast jumps with good landings. Along the way, you can rack up additional points by grabbing pink dots that appear on the path ahead of you. Sometimes they’re hard to snag, requiring you to jump up or down to a different path or land a jump early. Other times, they’re right in your path.

The goal of Fotonica is just to rack up a high score, but despite being relatively small-scale, it includes online leaderboards and 10 achievements. Developer Santa Ragione has also thrown in a randomly generating endless level that lets you just try your hand at being awesome by going for as long as you can manage.

All told, Fotonica is easy to pick up, fun to play, addicting to master and beautiful in its own right. It has a minimalist, wireframe flare that usually only operates in two colors and has an eerie simplicity at odds with its first-person nature. Needless to say, it’s fun to look at and more fun to play.

You can snag Fotonica right now from Ragione’s website, where you’re able to pay whatever you want for the game. I suggest you take Ragione’s suggestion and toss him at least $1.75 to cover his costs. Seriously, you can part with the cost of a Pepsi at the gas station, cheapskate. Head on over to the Fotonica website right here. I highly suggest you take a second and enjoy Ragione’s creation.

FOTONICA from Santa Ragione on Vimeo.

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