A simple, tightly crafted control system allows for an intuitive familiarity.
With plenty of challenge and depth, for mastery and specially that fulfilling feeling of becoming faster, stronger, better.
To the player, left and right make the dummy go left and right. The action of controlling the game takes relatively little brain power. There aren’t that many rules, and they remain consistent and fair, so it doesn’t take long to learn the consequences to your actions. The level design is closer to defining page margins for print than to creating a dramatic Doom asymmetric level. All these decisions share the objective of having you knowing and playing the game as fast as possible. It also means that you can put it down and pick it up wantonly with not much relearning needed. It’s streamlined, robust and stable in its rule set and mechanics.
I think of this game as a clock. It’s simple to use. But it’s also complex, elegant, dynamic and self-sustaining, everything kept oiled and tight under the hood, below the bonnet. This is where the hardcore aspect comes into play. Fun is immediately available, there’s no “skill-wall” to enjoy the chore mechanics. However, the rewards and progression system (both notions are coupled) are unapologetically to be earned. Because you appreciate that which you’ve earned, and it fills you with a sense of relief and vindication, of triumph. This is a powerful motivation to master, conquer, beat the game. Hence the Asgardian warring theme.
Get in The Zone
There’s a coordinated network of machinery juggling fairness and independence alongside conjuring sneaky ways to trip you up. It’s within these mischievous ways that’s up to you to beat the machine. You might need Jedi reflexes alongside those cunning wits of yours. The game isn’t very taxing when it comes to controlling it and understanding it, so that you’ll have plenty of peace of mind among the chaos of pedestrian transit to get in The Zone.
Eventually your hunting senses will awaken. Your racing stripes will behind to rise. You’ll develop a sense for the way the crowd behaves. You’ll notice that even though not one combination on screen ever repeats itself quite in the same way, people tend to behave in certain, familiar ways. As a group and as each its own. You’ll notice the peaks and valleys, and a certain dance between the flows. Each micro-scenario is not quite a puzzle (sometimes a maze), but it still remains a a pending life-or-death decision to be made, with immediate consequences, from catastrophic to winner of a Sun Tzu wink and nod from beyond.
“I wonder, if maybe this acceleration boost better serves my mission, counter-intuitively, left untouched?” “I could trigger a speed boost from crashing, in exchange of temporary vulnerability. It could be fatal. It could be Star Lord levels of winging it.” Dilemmas of such sort present themselves and are dealt in real-time in The Zone, in fractions of a second. So you adapt, plan, and start to have faster than light reactions and prescient hypothetical visions of things to come. You even start to name things. “Bubble fishing”, “Chinese Fire Fan”, four letter words. So there’s a lot to notice, to gain, and to overcome if you have the skill, time and guts for the glory.
This game is made to be played for seconds or hours. In the time span of three clicks, you get around 30 seconds of immediate gameplay. But also, you can be locked in battle for hours, trying and trying and retrying (in two clicks, BTW) until you get it perfectly. If that sounds up your alley give it a try, let me know if I was right. If I wasn’t, I’d appreciate to be told why. I’ll always try harder if there comes a next time.