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TorqueL, the Rolling Box 2D Platformer

A review of the most fun game I got to try at BitSummit. There's a playable prototype available for free download now, and I made a video of me playing it poorly in case someone wants to watch it.

Overcrowding at BitSummit meant that in the short time we had for looking at game demos, there was no time to see them all. I did see quite a few, and while most of the games I saw interested me in one way or another, a simple platformer named TorqueL took first prize for being fun to play.

TorqueL's concept is simple. The developer bills it as the 2D rolling box platformer, and that description basically sums up the game. The only thing that sets this game apart from other 2D platformers -- and the only thing it needs -- is that player movement has been completely rethought.

TorqueL screenshot

The player is represented by a square box with a pixelated, top-hat-wearing guy standing inside of it. This box can be rolled left or right at the player's whim, and there's a brake button to add finer control. The four sides of the box are each a different color, matching the colors of the ABXY buttons on an Xbox 360 controller. Push one of those buttons (or one of the WASD buttons if using a keyboard) and the corresponding side extends outward from the box, becoming a large rectangle. Any number of the sides can be extended at once, changing the shape and reach of the box, and you can keep rolling even with the sides extended. Popping a side out and quickly releasing it can send the smarmy gentleman-in-the-box soaring across the level. There is no jumping, no climbing, and no running; just rolling and changing shape.

Learning how to control the box is simple. Anyone can pick the game up and quickly get started. Successfully getting from the start of a stage to the end, however, is something else. Since it's so different from the average platformer, even experienced gamers will find it a bit of a challenge -- in a good way. Many a player laughed aloud at his her own flailing attempts to play TorqueL at BitSummit. (To see a video of me playing not very well, go here.)

TorqueL is still a prototype in the early stages of development. The graphics and sound are simple -- just enough to make it easy to tell what's going on in the game. If you ignore the lack of polish, though, there's still a diamond waiting to be found. If you don't believe me, you can try it for yourself; the prototype is available for download straight from the developer at http://fullpowersideattack.com/.

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