The Collage Atlas Hands-On Preview
he Rezzed and indie sections of EGX offer up some real gems. Some niche items that have been fleshed out into neat little time wasters or satisfying alternative experiences. The Leftfield area though, well that ranges from the bizarre to the sublime often within 5 feet of each other!
After just finishing up with A Light in Chorus (a Leftfield allum from the class of 2014) and straying from the Rezzed area I wandered through the Leftfield section taking in the sights and sounds of what the inventive minds had come up with this year. A few games caught my eye but none so much as The Collage Atlas (although Foramina was a close second!).
Immediately The Collage Atlas’ hand drawn ink sketches undulated and skipped with a hypnotic ease. Taking a few moments to look from a distance I couldn’t help but appreciate just how striking the visuals were. Not for their polygon counts or super lighting engine – but for their sheer artistic flare and simple implementation.
The relatively short demo experience lasted maybe 8 to 10 minutes at most. Anyone familiar with Giant Sparrow’s The Unfinished Swan will immediately appreciate the look and feel of the game. You simply walk around a stark white screen (made to look like a sketch page) whilst a beautifully drawn ink world generates around you. You simply have to walk from the gate you just exited to the gate that leaves the area you are in. It’s that simple.
As you walk your path will be littered with bushes, trees, lampposts, swirling leaves and various other items. Following pre-lite lanterns will help take you to your destination but it’s still relatively easy to get lost. If you stray off the path or, in my case, spin around a lot (I think the placement of world items is generated randomly so you might spin to see the world then lost the path you’re meant to take) then simply pressing a button will reset you to the gate you last entered through.
As you walk these abstract ink landscapes you will see jumbles of words appearing in front of you. Simply position yourself in the world correctly to line up the letter to form a short phrase. Each imparting a short piece of knowledge or supposition on life. If you’re feeling particularly lazy you can just press the solve button and the text will just reveal itself without the need to line it up.
There’s not really not much more to it than that really yet experiencing the world, being absorbed into it, was a very peaceful and pleasing experience. It had a simplistic beauty – a “pure core” if you like. More so than something like Unfinished Swan, The Collage Atlas felt like a game you could indulge in for refuge or self-meditation and reflection.
It’ll be interesting to see where John Evelyn (@johnevelyn on Twitter) takes the concept from here. This is something that works well on a PC/TV screen but could become incredibly satisfying in VR. For now, if you get a chance, then check the short demo out and appreciate the beauty and simplicity it brings and keep an eye out for more on this soon (we hope!).