I would have a hard time trying to remember Italian developers. On the top of mi head, I recall ‘Milestone’ that focuses on racing games like MotoGP, WRC, and SuperBike sagas. I have ‘Artematica’ and ‘Playstos’ mostly developing for iOS, Android and Facebook and of course the Milan branch of Ubisoft that delivers Just Dance and other not so huge titles. That’s why is always a good sign that indie developers appear to fill the gaps.
[alert type=white ]Reviewed on PC
Release date: 11/06/2014
Developer: Santa Ragione[/alert]
Conventions like IGDS in Milan are a really important help to these indie studios struggling to take their head out. One of those is Santa Ragione. Originally, board game designers (‘Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space’), since 2010 creators Pietro Righi Riva and Nicolò Tedeschi, have been working on the development of games for PC, Android and iOS. Fotonica was one of those. Previously released for PC, it has recently appeared on Apple Store and Steam with a retouched version that not only looks great, but feels great too.
The game, and this I say as a statement, is weird. It’s like Temple Run meets First Person with a scent of ‘casual’. We are accustomed to put that ‘casual’ tag to every game with simple controls, naïve gameplay, and no background story. And maybe we aren’t wrong. That doesn’t mean that a casual game can’t be good. FOTONICA is a really good casual videogame and probably the first of those runner types.
You are a runner in a first person view –you only see your hands flapping- jumping spacy cliffs. If you miss the jump, you lose. That’s it. What makes this game entertaining is the concept behind. Minimalist but clean visuals with a cool raveish soundtrack at the back composed by a couple of musicians like Nicolò Sala (one of their regulars), Michael Manning and Tohomisa Kuramitsu which many of you will remember as one of the brains behind PixelJunk Eden.
The environment looks like space (something these guys obviously like… check their other multi prized game ‘MirrorMoon EP’). Of course it isn’t because exists the physical phenomenon of gravity… sorta. You take really amazing jumps to get to the next platforms, so maybe we can argue that even when the game does not take place in the proper SPACE, you are somewhere in-between.
So you run, endlessly, by pressing a key. Any key, and you jump by releasing it. For landing? Press the same key. That’s it. It doesn’t get simpler than that my friend. The response is fast, but you won’t always land where you thought you were. That’s kinda of a bummer…
There’s none. My bad. There’s always an objective. In this case: collecting points. The longer you stay on track, the more points you get because of the meters ran. Achieving a good jump makes the tracks gold tinted and it’s some form of bonus that sums up to the General Score once you inevitably fall down.
The original game was improved for the re-release and now it has eight levels with an “Infinite Mode” with three new stages; one more difficulty level which takes the total to four. A totally new FOUR PLAYERS COMPETITION (and local! The mobile version, reduce that feature to two players, still, in the same device, awesome) that increases by a lot the replay value. Also, the soundtrack and vector like graphics has been retouched and revamped.
FOTONICA is a beautiful game to play with friends without looking anything more than a fun time. And I don’t want to do any LSD apology but…
I just did.