Tuesday, April 19, 2016

No Money, No Problem: Windowframe

Title: Windowframe
Developer: Daniel Linssen
Platforms: PC
Price: Free
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Daniel Linssen, aka managore, has quite an impressive portfolio of games over on itch.io, from the spear-throwing Javel-ein and the dimly-lit dungeon crawler Roguelight to the sepia-swept Sandstorm. But perhaps his most interesting was HopSlide, a game that was actually two games, in two different windows, but linked. What happened in one affected the other. It was a smart concept that extended gameplay beyond the confines of the typical window.

His newest game, a jam entry for Ludum Dare 35, takes that idea of merging gameplay and the means through which the gameplay is presented, and refines it in a brilliant way. I'd say Windowframe might be the most ingenious use of the screen since The Fourth Wall's screen-wrapping and Perspective's first person/2D hybrid.
Windowframe follows a hero on a quest to slay a series of vampire lords, navigating a gauntlet of spikes, fireballs, and other hazards along the way. Control-wise, Windowframe isn't anything new, running, jumping, wall-sliding, and other acrobatic feats let you evade danger with ease. But your arsenal of stakes grant you a new ability that turns the platforming on its head.

The game window of Windowframe is a dynamic entity, traveling across your computer screen along with your character, changing in size and shape with each level. Sometimes you can only see a small section of a level, other times the entire area is visible. But the edges of the screen also act as the walls of the level, and your stakes let you bend those walls to your will. Stakes will freeze the edges of the screen in place and allow you to drag those edges closer to you. What was once a wall too high to climb over becomes a narrow chute to ascend.
But more interestingly, only the areas visible within the screen can affect you or be interacted with. Climb high enough to hide a spike pit from view, freeze the bottom of the screen, and now you can walk unharmed across the newly-designated "floor" of the level. An impassable wall of fireball turrets can be rendered moot by covering them with the screen. It's a clever, visually-interesting and mechanically-varied idea that's just begging to be expanded upon and further explored.

Windowframe can be found on itch.io and the Ludum Dare database.

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