May 8, 2013 6:58 PM | Paul Hack
Jocce Marklund of Marklund Games emailed us with word that his rope-swinging, procedurally generated platformer We Are Subjects has been released as a fully playable alpha, and I'm happy to report that the game is a solid and complete experience in its current form. You control a succession of "subjects" forced by your shadowy handlers to explore a deadly series of caves and collect precious crystals. Motivated by the prospect of escape, you have no choice but to embrace your suicide mission. Just being in these caves is toxic, and the floating turtle-aliens don't help make it any safer, but your worst enemy may be yourself.
You and your fellow expendables are set loose with nothing but "ninja ropes", as the developer likes to call them. A ninja rope is a thick, extendable tether that twists and snakes around platforms and is generally silly to use. They are great fun, and the heart of the game is learning how to handle one without constantly bashing yourself against a rock or falling farther than you should. You move and jump with WASD (spacebar will also jump), and use the mouse to control your ninja rope. You'll pick up crystals and explosives by running into them, and they will be used automatically at the appropriate places. You can also drop items by pressing E.
You must swing and explore, trying to find crystals, which are traded for explosives, which are used to blow up the boulder that separates each of the 3 sections of the cave. You can collect mushrooms, which are used to buy various upgrades from a hungry cave dweller (he's surrounded by a green glow), such as more health or a softer landing when you fall. You will gradually lose health even if you're standing still, so you'll need to periodically revisit the starting room to hang out and recharge (and to trade crystals for TNT).
We Are Subjects is a tasty game. The graphics are pristine, the lighting effects are impressive, and the music is ridiculously catchy. The controls are spot-on, although mastering the physics of ninja ropes will take some practice and keep you coming back for "one more game". Can you survive to see the ending this time?