First Looks// EGX First Looks: Rok and Spectra

Posted 10 Nov 2014 13:01 by
Chris has been at it again, haunting the floor of any games show careless enough to leave an air vent accessible from the outside. Recently he was at EGX, putting his hands on any- and everything he could. Here, he reports back.

Rok by Stitch Games

When a protagonist has been locked up into a very high security prison for many years with layer upon layer of security measures, breaking out is not going to be easy. Rok is about a prison break of epic proportions. The power of Rok's main protagonist was once almost god-like, yet we find him wretched and brow-beaten from years of solitary confinement. Hope is given to him from an unknown outside source, that provides the prisoner with limited telekinesis powers that allow him to free himself from his cell and hopefully out of the prison itself.

Rok is, at its core, a point and click adventure that takes advantage of the touch screen interface of the iPad. By using the multiple digit interface, it's possible represent the telekinetic effects, such as raising levers and pulling panels away from walls to gain access to controls that lower bridges and open doors. I initially found it to be a little fiddly, but eventually I managed to sequence when to place one digit and move another and eventually it does become quite intuitive.

The visuals and setting remind me a great deal of two games from the dim and distant past; Bioforge and Another World. The setting is very much Bioforge-like, with a prisoner that has an unknown past but is very powerful having to break out of a high-security prison. The low polygonal models and simple textures are reminiscent of Another World and all the lighting effects that affords.

The realm of Rok is Norse-based, with trolls and elves being the primary beings that are trying to prevent the escape of the prisoner. It is clear that this person was once very powerful and as Rok progresses this power is regained, to what end I can only guess. But from the atmosphere I gleaned from my time with Rok at EGX 2014, it's probably not good. Maybe I'm wrong, but my gut tells me that he was probably locked up for a very good reason, but I won't know until Rok appears sometime in 2015 for iPads that run iOS 6.0 and above.

Spectra by Gateway Interactive

There are games out there that you don't actually play in the traditional sense. If you do, you will invariably perform rather badly at them. Terry Cavanagh's Super Hexagon is very much a game that requires one to just let go. You have to let the music take you and then react to the game in time with the music, kind of.

Spectra is very much of that same staple, which is hardly surprising considering the fact that the soundtrack is made by the same person who created Super Hexagon's - namely Chipzel, aka Niamh Houston.

Spectra consists of a highway that the player must guide a floating rocket-powered vehicle along. This highway is suspended in space and there are no barriers to the road, so it is quite possible to tumble over the side into oblivion. The only thing stopping this from happening is the player's ability to steer through an increasingly complex highway that has glowing yellow boxes that provide points to the player as they hurtle along.

There is only one life and the aim of Spectra is to get as many points as possible before the music track ends or you fall off of the highway, with the latter being most likely.

Each highway is procedurally-generated based on the music track that is being played. Those familiar with Audiosurf will be in recognisable territory here. The key difference here, though, is the ramp-up in difficulty and the visuals, which are very similar to Geometry Wars in many respects.

I found Spectra to be a really fun yet challenging game to play. My time on it at EGX 2014 was relatively limited and with the music being hard to hear I was pretty much crippled from the outset. Nevertheless, I did find myself wanting to have 'one more go' to up my score (with some success I might add). When I see that kind of progress I know the game has been well-tested and designed, as games that repeatedly punch you in the face with little-to-no progres,s despite frequent plays are generally not that appealing (with the possible exception of Dark Souls, of course).

Spectra is currently available on Windows Phone and Xbox One.

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