Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blips: Musically Inclined

Source: FRACT OSC isn’t a synthesizer or a game. It’s both
Author: Dan Solberg
Site: Kill Screen

I reviewed FRACT OSC for Kill Screen this week, which is a first-person exploration/puzzle game that also leads you through the basics of producing music with a synthesizer. The "game" part is sort of a combination of TRON, Metroid, and Myst where each puzzle you solve, unlocks a new component of your synthesizer studio. That you can go into the studio and record music that kind of sounds like the beginnings of Kraftwerk sketches is pretty cool in it's own right, but I loved that the puzzles drew inspiration from the step-sequencer as well. FRACT's not perfect, but it's definitely worth checking out, particularly if you're adept at these kinds of puzzle experiences. While there's a learning curve to the studio portion, the exploration component offers little guidance, and thus is more attuned to players who are already adept with this sort of gameplay.

For full disclosure, the developers granted reviewers access to a walkthrough video of many of the game's puzzles, and I referenced it on a handful of occasions, either as a time-saver or because I was genuinely stuck and on a deadline. As I mention in the review, there's a certain irony to the diametrically opposed learning curves of the studio and puzzle sections. So, while I enjoy a good heady puzzle game, I think some of the visual language of FRACT could stand to communicate certain interactive points a bit more deliberately or perhaps other aspects of the world could be a bit more playful. Surely I can get some kind of synth to emerge by waving the cursor over a pillar of neon. Alas, there's always Proteus for that.

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