During my recent visit to London’s largest annual game convention, EGX REZZED, at the Tobacco Docs, I had a chance to talk to a number of notable developers as well as publishers in the game industry. Some of them happened to be focusing or working on mobile titles and showcased them at the expo. One of these companies happened to be Arte, the publishers of the recently-released hit Vandals on iOS and Android.
This surprised stealth-graffiti mishmash has been receiving some pretty good critical reception as of late. The game is about escaping detection, tagging walls and creating unique tags from scratch, as well as an overall colorful and eye-catchy aesthetic style.
I spoke to Vincent Dondaine at the show, who was in charge of Arte’s show floor demos that included two games that gamers had a chance to try out on iPads. These two Arte-published titles include Vandals and an upcoming title called Homo Machina.
The two games cannot be more different from each other in gameplay and appearance, but they do share some core ideas, innovation, a charming aesthetic as well as good overall production values. Oh, and both happen to be puzzlers as well, although in much different categories of the genre.
Vandals is a stealth game with graffiti thrown in for good measure, where players can tag walls with their own custom tags and escape police officers, police dogs and even flying holicopter in an almost Hitman Go style. Meanwhile, Homo Machina a journey inside the human body where players will have to solve puzzles inside a factory where a man sleeps and his body is being worked on.
Although Vandals may appear brutish or anti authority in nature due to its type of gameplay, it actually has very laid-back, family-friendly and peaceful style to it.
“There is no guns or killing in the game,” Dondaine said. “It is a peaceful game. when you are discovered by the police, they just stop you and you have to try again and start the level over.”
It has very artistic and almost steampunk type of aesthetics as the game has you sneaking across 6 levels across five cities around the world ranging from Tokyo to New York.
When asked if Arte has any future plans for the recently-released Vandals, Dondaine said that it will depend on the community reception. If it sells, more content will come and thus far he has been satisfied with the results.
At EGX REZZED, Homo Machine was shown to the public for the second time overall. Gamers at the show had a chance to work out a patient’s health and stabilize him as various machines and medical workers walked around a body and monitored its overall health.
This is a tribute game to Fritz Kahn, a German doctor from the 19th century. He is regarded as one of the founders of the modern concept of an infographic. The infographics Kahn created were very elaborate and full of vivid imagery. They mapped the human body as a very functioning and effective industrial palace or factory.
“He was teaching at the time visually how the body works,” Dondaine said. “When we saw that as game designers, we realized that it was design for a game. That was the inspiration.”
The game allows players to work out a patient’s health throughout one whole day spread across multiple levels and involving various puzzles and solutions. The patient or person is laying inside an alternative reality factory with physicians walking around and various machines operating around the laid-out figure. At the end of the day the patient goes on a nice date. So the goal is to keep him healthy and steady to finish one whole day of his life so he can make it to this date.
“The game is basically a factory of your body,” Dondaine said. “When you wake up you are inside your brain and thats where the factory boss is.”
You can check out the infographic that inspired Darjeeling, the developers of Homo Machina, here. It was originally published inside Kahn’s 1926 book about the human body as an industry, called “Der Mensch als Industriepalast.”
Players will be tapping on various icons to either direct the workers in the factory or on directly controlling aspects of the respiratory or anatomic system of the man. The puzzles will b varied and involve a wide use of logic to solve. The game also has really nice and vivid graphics as you see workers walking around and doing things as you tap on the display where you or the patient is laying down.
Dordaine promises the story is worth following along and it will be a touching tale to behold when the game releases sometime next month. It has been in development for around two-and-a-half years.
Here is a bit of gameplay shown or demonstrated to me by Dondaine: