Let’s just keep this one short and sweet. Press Play, the developer of Project Totem, has a sure hit on their hands. I had the pleasure of playing their latest game at PAX East this past weekend and am proud to declare that we chose it as our Game of the Show!
Project Totem (releasing this fall for Xbox 360 and Xbox One) has mastered the trifecta of my criteria for a good game. Press Play’s mastery of these major components compelled me to declare this game my winner.
While it is always a challenge to get any significant gameplay time at a huge conference, I played this game for every minute that I could get my hands on the controller. Though I didn’t get a full picture, even the small taste I got seemed to be building to an epic crescendo. I played a handful of different stages, each of which taught a different trick, tactic, or ability. It didn’t take a huge imaginative leap to picture how the pieces would fit together to form a challenge that would bend a player’s mind with difficulty by the end of the game.
Fear not though! I may have died (a lot), but I was never frustrated. Each time I failed at a jump or mistimed a landing I was back to playing again in seconds. There were no loading screens, there were no “you have X number of lives left” screens. Instead, the player was treated with a quick explosion of triangles (part of the art concept) and a pair of reformed totems back at the last checkpoint.
With this quick load time, Project Totem tests players’ skills while respecting their time. It didn’t seem to have some of the major time sink drawbacks that other games in this style tend to have. With all of the responsibilities of our families, this is the key to our heart here at Engaged Family Gaming.
The Art Style
I was never one to appreciate the “art” in games when I was a kid, but boy has this appreciation grown now that I am older. I am aware that graphical power has increased in consoles in recent years, but some of my most graphically enticing games have ditched hyper realism and focused on a more artistic style. Journey and Valkyria Chronicles are good examples.
This game’s art style might seem simplistic considering the artist told us that every character, platform, background, and particle effect in Project Totem is made up of tiny triangles. Don’t believe anyone could pull that off? Take a close look at the featured image on the article.
I know that the word “unique” gets thrown around far too often, but it is appropriate here. I have seen plenty of games with great pixel art, but this novel take on an often overused art style is amazing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.
The coolest thing about this game is that it can be played by two players. Two players each control two totems and go through the levels. I enjoy playing games with my son, and I have been keeping my eye on games that are coming out in the future for experiences that he and I could share together. He is only just starting to find his legs in platforming games, so this will definitely be a challenge. The premise is charming enough to keep him interested long enough to play through the entirety of the game with me. So far, in our platforming game experiences, we haven’t been able to find that. He gives up too quickly. But, this one seems seems interesting enough that he’ll keep at it with a little help from me.
I am also interested to see how he and his friends play this game together. The fast re-spawn times give this game a party game atmosphere. I can easily see that messing with your partner doesn’t have an impact on the outcome of the game, but could be enticing and fun. A bunch of kids playing through Project Totem without adult intervention will likely be hysterical!
Overall, this game brings a compelling challenge, a fun and unique art style, and a great cooperative aspect to the table. This trifecta makes one of the most appealing games we saw offered at PAX East.