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First Look: ‘ARTIFICIAL’; A Preview of Post-Catastrophe

The developer behind City Climber and The Flood recently announced his latest project: ARTIFICIAL, a physics-based, first-person puzzle game.

Developer Ondrej Angelovic started work on ARTIFICIAL last year in 2018. He says Portal was a huge influence on the project but other games affected the design even more.

“For me personally, Half-Life 2 and Inside were also a huge inspiration”, he said. “I would say puzzles and environments in the game feel more like something from those two than from Portal.”

Unlike Portal which is set in the shiny and clean Aperture Labs, ARTIFICIAL takes place in the ruins of an underground colony on Asteroid 2031 XT. The player is thrust into the aftermath of an unknown disaster. The mystery of what happened to the colony reveals itself as the player navigates the broken machinery and attempts to escape.

The dark, cramped level design in ARTIFICIAL. (Photo: Courtesy of Simple Ghost)

ARTIFICIAL has a dark atmosphere. Underground, there is no natural light and there’s no sardonic AI jabbing at you. The player is alone. Interacting with the machines trying to kill you are the only way out. The game will feature music by Devel Sullivan. Angelovic says the music will enhance the solitary feel for the game.

Obstacles and traps will hinder the player as they crawl their way through the debris. Some of which will be more intelligent than others. There are lot of things that will try and kill you. Simple Ghost has revealed on INDIEDB the game was using a library of almost 100 sound effects as of May 6, 2019. Some of these are breaking bones, zapping laser beams and electric shocks. Based on this, it looks like ARTIFICIAL will have plenty of ways to kill the player.

The game is similar but also very different from Angelovic’s previous projects. Silliness and brevity are replaced by loneliness and scale. It’s his biggest project to date and he says he’s happy with his improvement in game design. Even if it’s tougher than he thought.

“It takes longer than expected,” he says. “On the other hand, it already looks 10 times better and more complex than I originally imagined, so I guess it’s a good tradeoff.”

ARTIFICIAL is planned to release early next year. Angelovic is asking for feedback on Discord.

Steven Large studied journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He learned to read and write using video games and has been playing them ever since. He loves visual storytelling and talking to people about themselves. Contact him on twitter @steverlarge.

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