For more than a century, The War of the Worlds has made an impact on the sci-fi community. Starting as a novel, the tale of Martians invading London has spawned movies and television shows. The franchise is also no stranger to video games, although it has been more than a decade since one was produced. Dark Void Zero creators Other Ocean Interactive seeks to bring its highly regarded platform adventuring to the H.G. Wells classic. We took a look at one of these levels created and played by the designers.
The first noticeable aspect of the game is its atmosphere. The two dimensional side-scroller was layered with independently moving backgrounds and foregrounds, creating a three dimensional effect akin to older Disney films. The humanoid characters were clearly roto-scoped actors, painted over with high-definition graphics; this created an eerie and surreal nostalgia akin to Out of This World and Prince of Persia. The setting was further enhanced by the brilliant narrator of Patrick Stewart. The story the acclaimed actor told was not 100 percent faithful to the original novel but was so perfectly written and spoken that many would swear it was penned by Wells. The developers confirmed that a modern-day writer was hired to mimic Wells' style.
War of the Worlds gameplay is difficult and stressful. The main character is an everyday man, weak enough to die in one hit or long fall, and he starts with no form of attack. However, the checkpoints are very close, allowing quick resapwns after every death. For this first stage, the main tactic was stealth, timed movement, and puzzles. The Martian enemies consisted of flying drones that used their lights to spot targets. Once in sights, the machines would quickly fire out lasers that would instantly fry any human in their path. We witnessed as non-player character soldiers moved through (or unsuccessfully attempted) the war-torn battlefield. By copying the soldier's timing, our hero was able to dodge through the alien blasts.
The adventure spanned from Hyde Park, into a dank sewer, and out to a flaming wasteland. The protagonist pushed down crates from a steep ledge into the fires below, forming a path to the next danger: the Martian fighting machine. The gargantuan monstrosity was too busy with the military, providing a distraction for our hero. He snuck up across one of its massive grounded legs. This wasn't without danger: Shield disruptors were sprawled throughout the machine. Contact with one of these shield beams would disintegrate a human just like a drone laser. The main character stealthily moved through these hazards and climbed up to the head of the Martian. This allowed him to disable the machine and end the immediate threat on Hyde Park. However, the demo concluded before we could glimpse the remaining chaos plaguing London.
While we saw no weapons or items during this demo, Other Ocean informed us that there are several creative means of fighting back. These included manipulating the light generators within some levels, crushing aliens under heavy boxes, and using gas masks to become immune to deadly black smoke. There are even chances later on to wield Martian technology and weapons. We look forward to trying these features out when The War of the Worlds is released later this year for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.