Student indie developers Back Table Productions and 3 1/2 Voyages have recently released a fun, free, downloadable game with a brilliant concept that they produced at the DigiPen Institute. Obviously, the game’s title–”It Belongs in an Ancient Ruin!“–is a tongue-in-cheek riff on Indiana Jones’ familiar catch phrase–”It belongs in a museum!”–that he’d dish out to justify his motivation for liberating priceless artifacts from ancient ruins.
“It Belongs in an Ancient Ruin!” takes Jones’ propensity for action-based archaeology and flips it on its head. The game’s protagonist, Pennsylvania Smith–complete with leather jacket and fedora–is on a mission to steal valuable “artifacts” from museums, and return them to the ancient ruins from whence they came.
Most of the game’s nine levels begin with a stealth-action segment in which Smith must find and steal some sort of valuable knick-knack while avoiding hazards like security guards, cameras, and patrol bots. Little touches like the ability to jump into a planter to avoid a patrolling guard or camera are simple, and well-executed. Once an artifact is in his possession, Smith must escape the museum, and replace the treasure on a pedestal in an ancient ruin that just happens to be adjacent to the museum.
The ruins’ hazards switch the pace up a bit, adding lava pits that can be swung across, and new enemy types ranging from bats to mummies, and –in what feels like a nod to Jurassic Park–players will even have to contend with the occasional velicoraptor. Oddly though, no snakes. In short, the game includes a good amount of often humorous enemy variety, and, as one expects from a 2D platformer, each enemy has its own behaviors to learn.
The experience itself controls well (especially with an Xbox 360 gamepad), and though not particularly ground-breaking from a mechanical perspective, the variety helps keep the game feeling fun throughout. From a level-design perspective, the museum/ruin layout makes sense, even though it’s logically strange, when you stop to think about it. What really stood out to me was the concept. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on Indiana Jones moves, but the game’s satirical take really resonates with me. As a result, I really hope the developers are able to push the concept even further in the future, and craft a more robust narrative around the Robin Hood-archaeology concept.
Though it’s a short experience, “It Belongs in an Ancient Ruin!” is an entertaining platforming adventure with a spot-on concept that I really hope the developers will continue to refine in the future. I’d certainly recommend downloading the game (for free) from the official site and giving it a whirl.
(via Indie Games The Weblog)
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