It’s boggles the mind and bewilders my thumbs just as to why more people are not talking about WARP, the debut digital title from Montreal based studio Trapdoor.
A self professed (and unconfusing-ly long winded) sci-fi top down stealth puzzle action game, WARP is perhaps one of the most genuinely charming and bluntly unforgiving games you’ll play in 2011. You play Zero, a mysterious yellow/orange alien who must escape the insular confines of the sprawling laboratory that has captured him and is holding him hostage. Zero is soon embezzled with a unique ability to negotiate through the labs by “warping” through walls, through doors, into obstacles and even into people or gun torrents. Think Metal Gear Solid, meets Portal, meets old school SNES game and you might get some idea of what WARP actually is.
But what’s particularly fascinating about WARP is that, it’s whatever you want it to be. You can WARP into scientists and enemies and line the walls and fixtures with blood if you so wish or you can take a more subtle approach and sneak through the experience without resorting to impulsive violence. It’s a subtle moral mechanic that hangs over you as you play and affects the way you interact with Zero and his immediate space. Trust us on this; WARP is a game you NEED to play. Thank god for creativity. In a holiday space dominated with shooters and games that have “3” tagged on at the end of them, WARP is on the cusp of offering gamers a genuinely unique experience unlike anything else out there in the run up to the turn of the year.
TGL caught up with Trapdoor’s Julia Pung to talk about all things WARP, what we can expect from Zero and his new abilities, the game’s online challenge rooms and why digital is the most complimentary platform for a game like WARP.
Here we go……
TGL: It’s been a while since we last laid eyes on WARP, what’s new and can you tell us a little more about Zero’s new abilities?
Julia Pung: We really have a ton of new stuff in the game at this stage; take for example our challenge rooms. They’re online, they’re competitive and they’re super cool. The challenge rooms allow you to use the powers you’ve accumulated in the single-player and try and compete against your friends and their top times and scores. We’ve also introduced a whole bunch of in-game collectables like grubs. With these grubs you can upgrade your powers; powers like Echo and Swap. Echo allows Zero to project a clone of himself and use it as a kind of decoy to distract enemies and lure them away from their positions. With swap, you can swap positions with your clone, so it allows you to WARP in new ways and into new areas that might have been difficult to get to using the traditional WARP mechanic.
TGL: Where are Trapdoor drawing inspiration from when it comes to Zero and these abilities? Who or what influences WARP the most?
JP: We really just wanted to make a game that was unique and different, all of which would be centred around our core WARP mechanic. Our designers are huge fans of games like Metal Gear Solid and you can see that in the game. For example, you can really violently kill someone in the game but crucially you can choose not to kill them at all. Games like Metal Gear Solid allowed us to refine the way we look at stealth as a gameplay option. Stealth in WARP is crucial and always relevant but it’s up to the play how to use that stealth. MGS has really affected the game.
TGL: Is it difficult to put WARP in an already existing genre? How would you describe it?
JP: We’re calling it a puzzle based stealth action game. It’s a good mix of all those elements. There’s something in there for everyone. These elements really help Zero try to escape this sprawling controlled space in any number of different ways. The environments we’ve built are huge and they change as you pass through. The ultimate goal is just get the hell out of there.
TGL: Do the quirky visuals allow you get away with more in terms of blood and gore? It can get pretty messy in there……
JP: Yes, it can get very bloody. But we really wanted to appeal to different gamers and the different ways people play. I think this game really feeds that idea really well. You can just charge through, blow everyone up and kill all round you or you can take your time and pretty much stealth your way through and see everything that the game has to offer.
TGL: Was there a temptation to do more with WARP in terms of its online output?
JP: We really wanted to concentrate on the single-player with this. We really want to draw people in and get them to care about the character and think about the consequences of their actions. But like I’ve already mentioned, we do have the online challenge rooms and that’s where it gets really competitive. We also have some really intense stat tracking that allows you to compare and contrast with what your friends are doing in the challenge rooms. But single-player was always our highest priority.
Why is the digital medium the most complimentary release platform for a game like WARP?
JP: A lot of people have been saying that WARP is the kind of game that you wouldn’t exactly expect to see. It’s quirky, it’s unique and it can be extremely gory and as a result, people don’t really take chances on games like this in a retail space. Digital allows people and developers like us at Trapdoor to take chances with games. That’s why digital works best for a game like WARP if you ask me.
WARP is available this Winter on PSN, XBLA and PC