>>Indie Game Spotlight
Pixels are an infinite resource, but Small Worlds’ creator David Shute treats them like a commodity. Not a single one is wasted, each carefully placed to serve a purpose in his mysterious, gloomy world.
It begins with a simple phrase: “There is too much noise.” Then you take control of a 3-pixel figure in what looks like a grey cave. You can walk left or right or jump, and as you move, the camera zooms out and more pixels are revealed. The effect is almost like stepping back from a photo mosiac. As you explore, a Metroid-esque maze is illuminated. Sounds and visual cues clue you in to where you are.
A narrative begins to take shape – but like an artful short story or poem, the true theme of Small Worlds doesn’t immediately reveal itself. The conclusion only leaves you pondering, stepping back even further to work out the developer’s intentions.
Tiny, seemingly random and inconsequential bits of the world tell a backstory. Through an amalgamation of what appears to be the figure’s own thoughts and memories, you learn how they came to live in this place. One dark layer after another is peeled away until the full, pixellated picture comes together.
The game is short, spanning no more than 15 minutes – but it evokes more mood and ignites more curiosity than games twenty times its size. That it accomplishes this with minimal gameplay and visuals suggests that not only is there too much noise in this figure’s world, but in our big-budget industry as well.