Demos! Do you remember those? Little slices of a game to help you decide whether you should fully dive in or not. I used to get demo CDs with PC Gamer magazine back in the day and play some of the demos avidly. The ones that were most effective would be ones that had a story with a little cliffhanger ending that would demand I look into the full game. Also Half-Life: Uplink. That was awesome.
So here we have How To Build A Planet, from Hexagon Blue (who made the pretty damn cool Unloop). This was once again made for a Game Jam (still not about competitive preserve eating sadly) called Adventure Jam, in which teams make an adventure game in around a week. Obviously creating anything of significant length in this time scale is challenging, which is why this game is set up as being the opening chapter of a much larger game.
Due to its short nature, I won’t say too much about the story. You, as Oizo Lumiere, wake up from stasis aboard the Darwin, a ship seemingly seeking planets suitable for terraforming. You’re met by the robot Beasley (who I loved) who explains that you and the crew have been asleep for around 7 months. After a brief walk around the ship and a few conversations, some odd things happen resulting in a significant discover. And then we cut to black and the story ends on a cliffhanger that had me wanting to find out more. The story plays out in about 10 minutes but did enough to make me want to learn about what happened and where the plot would go.
The game plays a little like a visual novel at this point, with a few choices in each room and some conversations to have. You travel to rooms by clicking on them and select an option. I wasn’t sure which rooms to head to at first, but this just lead to me exploring the ship and in most cases I simply needed to find and speak to one of the crew members. At this early stage there isn’t a great deal in terms of diverting from the main path, but there are supposedly plans for this in the future which I’ll go into shortly. The game’s environment looks strikingly similar to FTL, with rooms spread throughout a top down view of the ship. The art work of the characters is all distinct (again, Beasley is a standout here) and those that can be interacted with have identifiable personality traits that will likely crop up later.
This is chapter 1 of a game with a much larger story, described as a sci-fi thriller. There are plans for this to be a visual novel with point & click adventure and puzzle sections when the game gets a full release next year. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops. I have hopes for a branching story and more characters to arrive. I have no idea if this will happen, but that’s half the fun of demos: where will this game go in the future?
How to Build a Planet was developed by Hexagon Blue. I played the game on PC and recommend you give it a go (click on the link near the start!) if you’re interested in seeing the beginning of a science fiction story that has potential. And with such a short play time, what have you got to lose? I for one am looking forward to seeing where this goes and will post about this again once the final game is released. Get the game and give it a go here: Link!