Sebastian Janisz (Ultimate Walrus), developer of Isopark and Trike, emailed us about his Ludum Dare game, Dehumanizer, and I am so glad he did. Dehumanizer is a masterpiece of minimalism and an elegant game design to boot. You are the Dehumanizer, a bio-engineered killing machine. Some intern put a violence chip in your cyborg brain instead of an obedience chip, and now the company that created you is determined to destroy you. What's a human weapon to do but what it does best?

The game takes place on a single screen, using a resolution of 16x16. You and the assassins out to get you are each composed of only 3 chunky pixels. They come at you from both sides of the screen, and drop down on you from above. You have to shoot them all before they shoot you, and climb upon the pile of corpses you create. In an ingenious twist, your score is determined not by how many enemies you kill, but by the height to which you build your mountain of dead pixel flesh.

The Dehumanizer (what a great word) moves with the left and right arrow keys, and the up arrow aims for the sky. The Z key jumps, and the X key shoots. Be careful of where you let the bodies fall; as they pile up, you will need to adjust your aim (and bullet dodging) to take into account your height in relation to your enemies'. Your bullets can destroy blocks of the corpse pile to help you adjust your footing, but remember that you're trying to get as high as you can.

This is a game of tactics as well as shooting. The more you play, the more you will tease out the subtleties of the design. You can also grab a friend and play co-op, which introduces even more tactical possibilities. But don't think too hard; this game moves fast. Dehumanizer is a free download for Windows, and is highly recommended.