There are so many elements that need to come together to make an indie game successful. Occasionally, a project will try to circumvent one or more of these elements to its determent. Such is the case of the curious would-be game, In The World of Chalk by James Gray. While the Kickstarter campaign presents an impressive tech demo, it’s the missing elements that stand out the most.
Pitched as a unique puzzle platformer, In The World of Chalk allows players to change the game world on a whim. As they navigate the level, players can draw shapes and objects into the world to help complete objectives. The simple chalkboard style graphics add to the aesthetic and the character animation is extremely well done. That said, even for the modest $3,000 funding goal, In the World of Chalk doesn’t have much going for it.
The Kickstarter trailer introduces us to the project’s creator, James. As we’re taken on a brief walkthrough of the current build of the game it quickly becomes apparent that while the mechanics are in place, gameplay and level design are nonexistent.
All Drawn Up And No Place To Go
We’re shown a ball on top of a block which we can draw a ladder to reach. Once there we push the ball down and wander away. The rest of the trailer is more of the same as James tries to demonstrate the players ability to complete imagined objectives to no purpose. Therein lies the biggest problem with In The World of Chalk, it doesn’t give players a goal.
None of the proposed physics puzzles or diverse environments exist. At least, there is no information on the campaign page that suggests they do. This isn’t meant as a knock against the concept or the developer. As a tech demo the trailer perfectly shows off what could be done with this early premise. The trouble is that it’s so early that none of the features or elements that would actually entice potential backers are in place yet.
The entire project would benefit greatly from a few more months of work devoted towards level and puzzle design. It probably wouldn’t hurt to develop at least a bare bones narrative as well. We don’t need the little stickman’s life story, but there should be some reason for players to keep moving to the right of the screen. More importantly, backers need a reason to want In The World of Chalk to get funded. A reason that is conspicuously lacking in the current campaign.