There were two excellent games at PAX East this year with the same general aesthetic: shadow puppets. I found this quite intriguing. They each are of very different genres and handle themselves completely differently mechanically, but I felt like they deserved their own special spotlights to highlight this, even though they both could have found a way into the Party and Puzzle Compilation Articles.
While Shadow Fencer Theater played the aesthetic of shadow puppetry for laughs (quite effectively I might add), Projection, being developed by Shadowplay Studios and Blowfish Studios, instead relishes in the art form’s use of shadows and light, and turns this into a compelling mechanic with interesting narrative implications.
A shadow puppet adventure about light manipulation, curiosity and lost art. Projection is a game in which you control a light whose shadows can be used as physical platforms to solve puzzles and explore new and wonderful worlds rooted in the historic tradition of shadow puppetry.
Projection is absolutely gorgeous, using the shadow puppetry to create an aesthetic that feel slightly melancholy to me. Though I only saw a brief glimpse of the narrative in the demo I played, this seemed to fit that tale of childhood, feeling lost, and curiosity.
The main mechanic of the game is both incredibly simple (though I’m sure it is anything but simple from a coding perspective) and wonderfully deep. As you explore the world, you have a little dot of light that you can move around, changing the shadows that different piece of the environment give off. So, what was once a sheer cliff can quickly become a easy-to-walk slope by moving that little light into the right place.
This mechanic works superbly, and the platforming has enough wiggle room that you can play around with the light a little. Unfortunately, the controls I was playing with on the PC were less than great, which made controlling the main character a bit difficult. However, the developers informed me that the game was developed for touch screens first, and their last leg before release was porting to PC and tightening those PC Controls, so I’m willing to expect these to be easy to use come release.
Projection has all the makings of an intriguing puzzle-platformer, allowing you to play with angles and shadows to lead a little girl through this story, whatever it might hold. With strong mechanics, the makings of a strong story and my only real complaint already on this list to be fixed before launch, I can heartily recommend you keep Projection on your watch list.