Confronting The Man Left With One Choice
By Julie Morley
It is a spirit known to drive a man mad. An alcoholic temptress luring the drinker into the pit of insanity. Absinthe is notorious for its high alcoholic content and hallucinogenic characteristics. But what if Absinthe is the only alcohol to cease a man’s grief or ease his pain?
Detective Bluth was someone who was on top of his game ten years ago. It was quite common to find him working overtime on a case, which is what put him in this entire mess in the first place (or so he believes). One day his outstanding work ethic worked against him and cost him someone he held dear to his heart: his little girl. Grief stricken and devastated by guilt, he turned to the only source of escapism and alleviation that would work: Absinthe.
Of all drinks, I wonder, why Absinthe? Would the hallucinogenic effects give him just one more glimpse of his daughter? Possibly brighten the world around him, making it vibrant, beautiful, and most importantly, livable again?
Once the drink became the only comfort in his life his wife just couldn’t handle what shell of a man he’d become and left him. Everywhere he turns, he sees his daughter. Something will always trigger a memory about her.
Around the time of his daughter’s death, people were disappearing left and right, rumored to have been abducted to the X-zone. It was once upon a time a luxurious location known as the “Pearl Islands.” Unfortunately, something made the place turn sour. The disappearance count increased so drastically that they had to close down any access to it.
Bluth is on a mission. He finally wants to uncover the truth behind his daughter’s disappearance and decides to visit the X-zone to solve this mystery.
When Bluth navigates around the island, he meets robots who speak of a “man in the tower.” One even has the nerve to sass him about his drink. The man in the tower is suspected to be the one responsible for all the disappearances over the decade. Detective Bluth is desperate to find this man and put an end to it all.
The gameplay for Spate takes platform games to a whole new level, and dimension; 2.5D, that is. The level design is intended to give the player a challenge by toying with their perspective. The camera angles randomly change as Detective Bluth is exploring further and further. In the midst of demanding tasks, objects will float into the foreground, limiting vision of the level and Bluth along with switching between a 3/4th angle, sideways, up close, and en environmental view. It makes gameplay unpredictable and fun.
As for actual character movement, you have your limitations. That is, until you take a swig of the Absinthe. It’s tempting, you shouldn’t take it, but that’s the thing about addiction: you need it. It’s impossible to continue without it. The challenges are similar. Bluth can double jump and run but certain situations demand the use of the drink; a jump and speed boost. Absinthe gives you that extra something to carry on.
The art direction is something to seriously brag about; the entire design of the levels gives the impression that gameplay actually takes place in Bluth’s subconscious. Key terms from the narrative will actually appear in the environmental design, making everything feel like a massive hallucination. It feels like a trip, especially when Bluth takes a swig of the Absinthe. Everything is warped, distorted, and difficult to make out. While Bluth is getting that boost, the player will be disoriented in certain situations.
“Are these things actually happening or is this the Absinthe?” will be constantly asked.
“I’m just the man left with one choice,” Professor Boseman exclaimed from his machine. The desperate need for eternal youth pushed him to steal innocent souls, including that of Bluth’s daughter. Said souls would run a machine capable of making a man live forever.
At the end of the game, Bluth’s fate completely rests in the player’s hands. You have the choice between two equally painful choices. The one you choose for a man who has nothing left to live for is up to you.
Game : Spate
Developer : Eric Provan
Platforms : Win / Mac / Linux