"This is Fader. It is a game about space, confusion, duality, triality and escape". I was contemplating leaving this post entirely to that one line from developer, Chris Makris, but Fader is definitely a title that warrants some further discussion.
Another entrant to IGF this year, it is a game of iconical indieness. A two-tone, minimalist, thinking man's platformer. I know that we have so many of these sorts to choose from currently (and, no doubt, many more to see release in the next twelve months) that the market should be saturated with idea clones and copycat visuals, but it's a testament to this sector of the industry that so many fresh ideas can still be retrieved from one base mechanic - that of making a little man jump around on a 2D plane.
So, take Fader - here the idea is one of duality, as described in the quote above. You control two characters onscreen, one above the other, but in essence you only really control one. That is, your actions on the keyboard will be reflected by both characters at the same time. Intriguingly they inhabit separate planes of existence so, when one hits a door but the other looks to have free reign to proceed, neither can move. And there's your headfuck.
I love the concept, but I'm also enjoying how incredibly threatening the game comes across in the video below. There's something disconcerting in the way the ghostly audio combines with the transposed layers of existence. And there are some great sci-fi zapping and buzzing sounds that just seem to hang in the air when the player interacts with doors, lifts and switches.
Having the two characters at cross-purposes but needing to work together is a novel concept and I think it reinforces a theme which is prevalent in computer games: Escape. We always seem to be running from something, whether it's the Half-Life Combine, or the ghosts in Pac-Man. We're constantly trying to break free from constraints placed upon us and here, imprisoning the player in two settings at the same time seems to make it so much more tangible.
We'll see how it plays on release, but Fader is something I will be keeping a very close eye on.