As a fan of linear narrative puzzle platformers like Limbo and Inside, I’ve been wondering how long it would take to start seeing indie teams take Playdead’s style of atmospheric adventure and attempt to add their own spin to it. While I’ve not seen nearly enough games trying to make their mark in this space, Melbourne developed Baroviet does a really impressive job of taking the basic formula and layering some really interesting mechanics on top of it.
So, what makes Baroviet distinct mechanically from a game like Limbo? While exploring in Baroviet the player is joined by a spirit controlled and positioned using the right analogue stick separately from the movement of the player character. The right trigger can be used to expand a circular portal which reveals the spirits of parts of nature which no longer exist, finding and creating temporary platforms, while the left trigger can be used to expand a circle which both translates text, but also casts environmental objects into shadow where they temporarily do not exist.
The combination of creation and destruction abilities, whose areas of effect shrink after a few seconds, makes for a really nice balancing act during world traversal. I really enjoyed having to create platforms, jump on to them, quickly remove obstacles from the world, jump while creating a new platform to land on and repeating to get across seemingly impassable barriers.
Considering the game was being demonstrated as a student project, I was really impressed with the number of unique uses the development team had managed to find for their relatively simple set of core mechanics.
Aside from the mechanics of the game, the general tone, music and pacing of the demo was really strong. Translating runes into legible text took simple tasks and leant them an air of mystery and intrigue. The world and character design gelled well and created a real strong sense of atmosphere unique to Baroviet.
I really hope Baroviet continues development beyond the end of its life as a student project. While the demo on show at GCAP during Melbourne International Games Week was clearly suffering some minor performance issues there is a really solid project on show here that has a clear idea what it wants to be and has kept its scope under control.
I think Baroviet could end up being something really special, a decent competitor to Playdead’s brand of atmospheric side scrolling puzzle platformers.