The Leftfield Collection is a small room filled with the most experimental, weird, and often, wonderful, games of EGX Rezzed, itself an indie convention. These games that we’ve featured below are the ones that we found the most intriguing, perhaps the most beautiful, maybe simply just the most out there. Either way, we ended up spending a lot of our time at Leftfield, which says something about this excellent collection of games.
The World is Flat
The small stand devoted to The World is Flat was probably the strangest thing we saw during our time at Rezzed 2016. Nestled on a cradle of old fashioned computer mice was a giant grey exercise ball. This was used as a make-shift controller – as you rotated the ball, the on-screen map of the world moved too. Strangest of all was the noise this device made, which was like someone shaking a bag of mint imperials. Despite its appearance, the ball worked rather well for this game, in which you traverse a three dimensional map of the world in search for specific countries. The World is Flat seeks to test your knowledge of the world around you, as it names particular countries that you must go off and find on the map. Sometimes a country isn’t named, and instead all you see is that country’s flag – how this works with Chad or Romania, I don’t know. The challenge is heightened still as you race against the clock, forcing the player to speed up or lose.
The game’s minimalist style works well. At first all you see is the border between countries on a white background, but once you begin scrolling across continents each country becomes illuminated by its own flag. The World is Flat is sure to prepare you for the geography round of even the most difficult pub quiz.
At first, Pool Panic sounds like a rather unremarkable game. Pool simulators aren’t usually classed as being among the most exciting games around. However, Pool Panic is different from your average pool simulator. For starters, the balls have faces, expressions, and little legs so that they can walk around the table dodging every shot you take. On top of that, you play as a white ball, who must knock all of the opposing ball into the usual pockets. It plays more like an adventure game than a pool simulator, as you move from one stage to the next, with a different challenge being present at each pool table you encounter. There are even boss battles.
The game looks superb, with a different face drawn onto every ball. There’s a lot going on on-screen with so many different characters, each with their own unique personality. It’s like Mr Men, but with pool balls. Pool Panic is currently still in development, so we’re excited to see how the finished product turns out.
Nineties Cockpit Freakout
Try flying a spaceship with one hand – it’s rather difficult. That’s all you have to do in Nineties Cockpit Freakout. The mouse is used to press or move all controls within the cockpit, although it takes practice to work out what every button and lever does. Different levers lift different parts of the ship, and as such it’s remarkably easy to send your ship spinning out of control within the first few moments after taking off. One button sets off a self-destruct countdown, while another turns the windscreen wipers on and off. It’s difficult not to find the utter mayhem that ensues funny.
As you’d guess from the title, Nineties Cockpit Freakout resembles a much older game. The retro style is akin to classic games such as Battlezone, with only the outlines of objects being illuminated by bright neon colours. The cockpit itself is just as easy on the eye, with bright flashing buttons standing out on a white background. The game is rather short, but ultimately the experience is an enjoyable one.
Oases was my (Naveen’s) personal favourite of the Leftfield Collection. In fact, I came back to it a few hours after my first time playing it, just to be with it again, to wind down. In it, you control an aeroplane, sailing around weird and wonderful trippy environments, relaxing to the music of electronic artist Bo En. Between each level we see some text, giving the game some context: that creator Armel Gibson’s “grandfather’s plane was reported lost in the 1960 Algerian Independence War, days before the birth of his first child”, writing: “This is what I like to think happened to him.” This certainly gives the Oases an elegiac tone, highlighting the experience I had with it – and one that I’m sure I’ll turn to many times in the future – as one of peace and beauty.
Armel Gibson has perfected the game’s mood, littering the game with little details: the sound of the plane whirring, the changing colours of the wind streaks behind the plane’s wings, the shifting kaleidoscopic skies. All this is to say that while it may seem simple, and some might criticize it for being aimless, it is in that peaceful aimlessness that the game’s character shines. I, too, imagine that Armel’s grandfather likewise found peace in his final moments.
Orchids to Dusk
Another short, poetic game like Oases, Orchids to Dusk takes place on a seemingly boundless planet, as an astronaut slowly wanders as their oxygen slowly dwindles to zero. Playing this astronaut, given some five minutes to walk around, I was, at first, puzzled. I moved from oasis of vegetation to oasis of vegetation, sometimes seeing other astronauts, sometimes seeing just the glass helmets lying around. I was puzzled because I didn’t think this game would have any kind of effect on me. But as the game continues, as I watched that number slowly tick down from 100 to 0, as the game’s ambient music slowed me down, I went from frantically trying to make the most of my last moments to settling in, finding a nice spot to die. And so my character did, taking his helmet off and sitting down, vanishing to let an orange plant spring up in his stead.
It was, frankly, a depressing 5 minutes at EGX, but it certainly affected me more than my 20 minute session with Quantum Break before it.