Clever game design can take advantage of even the most limited resources. Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica is a marble-rolling game set in abstract space, which is made using mostly Unity assets. For some people, that might be infuriating, but sitting down to play it shows off what smart level design can do for a game.
Created by The Loneliest Pixel, Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica is a wild take on games like Marble Blast. The goal is to roll towards the end of the level and collect a piece of cake, but the path is filled with dangerous gaps, floating water blobs, and lasers. Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica takes the far-out sensibilities of early 3D titles and adds a surrealist edge. The world is cobbled together from Unity assets, giving everything a strange and fractured feeling. Tie dye rhino statues hang in a star-studded abyss, while a massive glitch beast hides underneath each level.
The term “asset flip” is tossed around a lot on the internet, referring to supposedly low effort games constructed using pre-made assets. Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica shows that how you use something is more important that whether or not you made it yourself. Some levels hide their goals in devious places, tucked behind where the level naturally draws your eyes. Others provide sequential challenges: drop down to a bouncy floor, leap to a computer console, circle back to the bounce floor, use it to reach a platform, jump to the bounce floor again, swim through suspended water to reach your goal. These are well-designed spaces, halfway between puzzle rooms and racing tracks.
Celestial Hacker Girl Jessica feels somewhere between the sort of game some of us played in the school’s computer lab and the freewheeling fun of SEGA games. Clever design and strange imagery meld together for a challenging but nevertheless relaxing experience.