Music of the Spheres is an indie game thats, quite rightfully, attracting alot of attention. Its been featured on Kotaku, indiegames.com and Polygon so far, and has been described by Eurogamer journalist Rich Stanton as “Half-toy, half-puzzle, and wholly delightful”. It is scheduled for release on the PC in February 2013. I was fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with it, thanks to developer Hamish Todd. Here are my thoughts.
You traverse the levels by walking (although this is not always an available option) and by moving up and down ladders, shooting coloured spheres (which ricochet around the stage, playing glorious glockenspiel notes as they hit surfaces). Your aim in each stage is to hit the red-winged angels you will find dotted around the level ; a harder task than it sounds. Especially as they squirm out of the way when they can sense a bullet is on its way! You will need to angle your shot just right if you intend to send those angels singing, let me tell you! The level design, inspired by Portal, is well thought-up, and ridden with plenty of nooks and crannies for you to get your cranium around. A good challenge.
The visuals are one of the most celebrated aspects of this game, and rightly so. The characters themselves have a familiar spritish look to them, and were clearly animated by someone who knew what they were doing. But it is the background art that really makes the game shine. It is comprised of striking patterns which were inspired by Islamic geometric art, which developer Hamish Todd is a big fan of. On his website he notes that it ;
“expresses some very powerful maths. The maths is obscure, and that can be irritating. But anyone can feel the beauty of the pattern. And that beauty is strengthened by the consistent complexity of the maths, whether you’re aware of it or not”.
Audiologically the game is silent, apart from the ping from your bullets as they hit the wall, expressed in glockenspiel notes depending on the angle of impact. The angels also let out a sound that is wholly holy as they are hit. It is unusual to have music incorporated into gameplay in such a way, and I almost feel as if I am multi-tasking when playing ; part solving a puzzle and part conducting a musical piece.
In conclusion Music of the Spheres is shaping up to be a very intriguing little game indeed. It is fun and quirky and really gets you thinking. I will certainly be keeping an eye on the development of this one, and plan to snap it up come February. Recommended.