October 16, 2013 3:40 PM | Anthony Swinnich
The closer we get to achieving hyperrealistic visuals in games, the more I come to appreciate projects like Jeppe Carlsen's 140. It's a testament to design that giant, blocky geometry and singular, flat colors married to its music can be as engaging, if not more so, than the frequent AAA blockbusters we see today.
2013 IGF Excellence in Audio winner 140 only has three levels and takes about an hour to complete (if you don't go for the brutal new game+ mode), but its brevity should turn no one aside. There's no real story to speak of, you just sort of appear in the world, ready to go. Moving through a stage is as simple as collecting a ball somewhere in the levels and returning it to its home base. Doing so will induce a trippy visual sequence, add a layer to the music, and open up a new path for you to take.
In terms of gameplay depth, 140 isn't going to light the world on fire. You're usually just moving and jumping, but the controls feel astonishingly solid and a few wrinkles go a long way toward keeping things fresh. You'll need to time your movement through disappearing hazards, or activate platforms that disappear after being touched. Sometimes the floor appears and disappears on its own. It's a short game, so I don't want to give away all of its tricks. However, rest assured they keep coming up until the end of the game.
Everything you do is timed to a thumping electronica soundtrack by Jakob Schmid that really brings the experience together. It's probable that the game wouldn't be nearly as engaging without it. You can pick up 140 now through Steam on Windows and Mac for the launch price of $4. It will return to its normal $5 price a week from today.