A Game That's Supposed to be Broken

By Luke Plunkett on at

It's been a few weeks since I wrote about Glitchspace, but I just got my hands on an early build of the game. It is a very different first-person experience.

While its abstract appearance is reminiscent of Mirror's Edge's iconic DLC, the game feels more like Portal. Only, if you were playing Portal as Cypher from The Matrix, able to see the very code that's underpinning the world.

Glitchspace is a programming game, where you're presented with coding challenges that you have to overcome to progress. You're strolling through a virtual space that's glitching out, with things like locked doors, platforms and transparent walkways barring your way.

Each "glitch" you encounter is marked with red. As you approach one, you right-click to open a code schematic, and from in there you need to get everything flowing to get past.

You're not sent to some abstract screen; the "puzzle" overlay pops up right there in the game world, and as you drag the pieces of the code together you can then seamlessly run right through to the next obstacle.

Note that it's not "real" code; the developers Space Budgie have built their own custom programming language called "Null". Here's an explanation:

We've designed our own custom visual programming language called Null, it's based largely on other visual programming languages such as Kismet (used in the Unreal game engine), Scratch and various other visual scripting tools. These tools, Scratch in particular, have been proven to be very good introductory programming languages which is one of the reasons why we choose to go down this road. Although you're not using a 'real' language, you're being exposed to programming concepts and terminology that are used in 'real' languages. What's more, to play through the game you need to start thinking like a programmer (whether you notice this or not). Hopefully all of this will help you if you decide to explore programming outside of Glitchspace! :)

So, no coding experience is required, but even given Null's introductory slant I still found it a bit of a struggle. That said, the interface was nice enough, and the "tutorial" so gentle that I gradually found myself learning on the job with the use of common sense and a little trial-and-error, just like Space Budgie were hoping.

The later you go, the more intricate the puzzles get, though in a nice touch they don't simply get more difficult, they also start letting you experiment with them, with multiple solutions allowing for different ways to progress depending on how you want to play the game.

It's not going to be for everyone, since the coding stuff gets pretty rough the further you go, but if you're looking for a fresh first-person game that pushes the same puzzling buttons as Portal, Glitchspace is just £4.99 (Early Access) on Steam.