What did Barnyard Intelligence Games’ Ben Shostak mean when he called his game 12-Bit? I had no idea, but I was instantly charmed by the Super Nintendo look and Secret of Mana-like gameplay of High Strangeness. I had fun with the game’s demo at PAX East 2014, and think its core concept will give it some legs.
In it, you’re a boy who’s met with some odd circumstances, starting off with your cat going missing and what appear to be spectres of death appearing in your house. I enjoyed knocking their heads around with a flashlight in the simple top-down gameplay, but the game didn’t seem all that complex. It wasn’t until most of the way through the demo that I saw what was interesting.
In High Strangeness, you’re given a skull that lets the character shift from 16-Bit to 8-Bit graphics, changing from SNES to almost an Atari art style with the push of a button. It seemed like a neat idea for aesthetically goofing off, but it has practical uses in that it changes how enemies work and what puzzles appear. As an example, some enemies couldn’t actually hit me with their shots since they could only fire in four directions if I shifted to 8-bit mode, but were capable of more complex movements in 16-bit. Likewise, my own attacks were limited to those same directions depending on what mode I chose. I didn’t see much of the effect before the demo was over, but I am curious to see how it’s implemented into puzzles and combat in deeper ways as the game comes closer to its release.
The soundtrack is also completely sweet as well, and I’d play the game just to hear a little bit more of that as well. Give the trailer a few moments of your time if you want to see what I mean. Also, check out Barnyard Intelligence Games‘ site for more information on this odd game.