This is a guest post by offal.
After years of releasing engaging short-form games, prolific digital artist Aliceffekt is nearing completion of his first independent commercial project, Hiversaires, for iOS. Committing himself to full time development at the beginning of February, Aliceffekt has worked solo on the game, handling design, code, art, and music.
The world of Hiversaires is presented through detailed pre-rendered stills with very little motion involved, and a pure monochromatic palette (with one notable exception). The game is played by stepping through the world frame by frame, making simple input in order to open up more of the environment to explore. Described by its creator as ‘an adventure puzzler in the genre of Myst and Drowned God’, Hiversaires offers little consolation for players, providing minimal feedback or reward, and demanding patient observation before progress can be made.
The tight first-person perspective and moody ambient soundtrack lend tension to the world of Hiversaires, reminiscent of Portal’s test chambers, and the alien industrial landscapes of comic illustrator Tsutomu Nihei. Though the game presents a relatively small area to explore, the minute details found at every starkly-lit angle imply a larger world behind the veil, emphasizing perception and continuity rather than scale. Each time the player advances in the game by demonstrating an understanding of the rules and bounds of the world, they are presented a puzzle that subverts previous expectations.
Aliceffekt’s longstanding interest in semiotics is at the heart of Hiversaires, in the form of a scattered geometric language that gradually reveals the machine-logic behind its austere corridors. The game may seem intimidating at first, and Aliceffekt recommends pen-and-paper mapping to help players keep track of their discoveries. Despite a minimal presentation and method of interaction, Hiversaires ultimately makes for a thoughtful challenge.