Three Games from IndieCade: 6180 The Moon, C3, Crashtastic

Crashtastic: Built for Destruction

Though it’s still in an alpha state, Crashtastic does a pretty great job of invoking the creative spark in players, the way titles such as Minecraft do. It reminds us all that at some point we might have been engineers, even if only of LEGO or Pinewood Derby cars, and also taps the greatest element of the hours spent building those things: ultimately destroying them.

The premise of Crashtastic is the solving of puzzles. Each level of the game presents players with a fairly simple challenge: move a human shaped robot in some way. In some levels, that means lifting him in the air; in others, it means carrying him through a gateway. Though the conditions might be straightforward, the solutions are anything but.

Crashtastic is all about building vehicles. Your robot sits in a chair, and around him you can construct anything you want. Throw in a couple of supports and axles and you can add wheels. Chuck the wheels and replace them with rockets to give the thing lift. Combine both for speed, or add pistons and shocks for more stability. According to the game’s developers, one player in the game’s pre-release alpha actually built a working airplane. Of course, it eventually crashed — but for a time, it also flew.

It’s those kinds of intricate solutions that make Crashtastic really intriguing. The game also includes an extensive free-build mode that’s there for players who just want to push the envelope of what they can make, and it sounds as though the game already has a fast-growing community building around it. Crashtastic is still in alpha, but can be pre-ordered on PC from its website here for $9.99 for instant access. You can also vote for it on Steam Greenlight.

C3 Bends Your Reality, Portal-Style

For their final project at Full Sail University, a group of game design students created C3, and for a game with only for months of work behind it, it’s pretty impressive. Players control a robot investigating a huge, cube-shaped structure, filled with strange rooms and technology. A third-person puzzler, C3 ends up drawing a number of parallels with the Portal series — all good ones, in fact.

As players enter the cube, they’re guided on the radio by a pair of humans who are outside, watching its progress. One reminds of Anya from Gears of War, or similar characters; the other could be Sarge from Red vs. Blue. There’s some goofy humor in their dialog as they send the (expendable) robot to figure out what’s up with the cube, and before long, the perception-bending part of C3′s puzzle-solving mechanics begins to kick in.

Carrying a weird beam weapon, players can alter the state of the game’s many test chamber-like rooms by rotating them. Each room has at least one cube (and most a number of them) that rotate the room on a certain axis. Shoot the beam at the cube and the room rotates — and like Portal or Magrunner: Dark Pulse, your beams come in two flavors, with one rotating in one direction and the other its opposite.

It’s a fairly simple mechanic until you get into huge, complex rooms with crushy obstacles and the like. The challenge of C3 becomes keeping everything in mind in the room’s three-dimensional space. Each room’s exit requires all that room’s axes to be aligned properly, and so you’re not just navigating through the room, you’re finding its one proper path. But it’s easy to forget what the hell you just learned when you flipped the room over and fell 10 stories onto what used to be the wall, which makes C3 a maze of a game that’s difficult because of the limitations of the way you see the world, and not necessarily its inherent complexity.

In other words: it messes with you, and that’s cool.

According to Donald Young, one of the C3 team members, the game demo available at IndieCade is more a “vertical slice” or a “sophisticated proof of concept” than it is the full title. After four months of work, three of which were for class, C3 still has a long way to go before it sees a full release for the playing public. Still, what I played was in an impressive state of completion, and C3 seems to hit that point of being mind-bending while also making you feel smarter.

Find more info on C3 on its website.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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