At a Distance begins with two people going, 'How do we do this?'

Except, not really. This doesn't happen inside the game itself. In fact, there's no script involved - heck, there's not even a help system to explain the controls. All this happens outside of the game, with the people who were handed the controllers and left to stare blankly at Terry Cavanagh's newest game.

The 'co-operative puzzle-platformer' recently debuted at No Quarter earlier this week, an event I was pretty fortunate to attend. Comprised of brilliant colors, halftone textures and strange shapes,At a Distance can be very different depending on which screen you're working on. For one player, the game is basically a series of massive rooms, wire-frame cubes filled with odd pulsating objects and spring boards. For the other, there are even more rooms and what will seem like a random chain of platforming sequences. At first, it can feel impossible to see where anything is related. Eventually, however, it starts to make sense and more than anything else,At a Distance is incredibly effective. One of the reasons that At a Distance was made was, according to the creator, to foster communication and that definitely happened during the event.

My friend and I were amongst the first few people to get their hands on At a Distance. We eventually gave up and other people replaced us, people we communicated our experiences to. As the night unfolded, even more people joined the discussion. Strangers mused over the purpose of the game, the methods, the things that they uncovered. Bewilderment formed more of a communality than alcohol ever could. What made it special was that it wasn't really just backseat gaming. More often than not, the players were actively looking for help or participating in the discussion. It was a fascinating experience; video games seldom come in so communal a shape.

I want rather badly to talk more about the game. At A Distance was brilliant albeit in a rather twisted sort of way but a big part of the fun was to figure it out yourself. If you're anywhere near New York and capable of making a jaunt down to the NYU Game Center, you probably should. They'll be around for a month so bring a friend for At A Distance and have two as back-up when you migrate to Hokra (we have an interview regarding that coming up).

For Terry Cavanagh's official site, go here.