I love it when I stumble upon an indie game created by a small team. These intimate projects are normally unique and small endeavours that explore some bizarre concepts. Alveole comes from a tiny two-person team and delivers a minimalistic experience.
Developed by Emil Ismaylov and Denis Petrov and published by Sometimes You, this is a basic puzzle title. Conceived during a two-day hackathon, the theme was “cage” and the pair didn’t want to take this literally. They created a metaphorical image to represent their thoughts. A simple game was generated where one mechanic was used! The repetitive nature highlights the feeling of being trapped and thus they stay true to their theme.
Alveole uses deja vu to hammer home its concept.
When a game explores the same mechanic repeatedly, you expect it to go somewhere. Alveole doesn’t, and this deja vu feeling serves to hammer home its concept. The game revolves around a man on a hamster wheel who must run until he’s exhausted. His only goal is to jump over a spike that appears randomly. If you fail, you’ll stumble, but will continue to run (you don’t get to escape your fate that easily).
This is the basis of the game, a continual treadmill that you can’t get off! You are trapped in this perpetual loop until you understand the cryptic clues before you. You guess their meaning as you stumble and jump your way to each solution. Perfection, failure, finishing, returning, and more must be achieved. It’s undeniably weird, and it took a while to understand what was happening. I expected more, but somehow I was hooked and determined to unravel the hidden meaning.
It won’t be for everyone!
The artsy concept and odd nature of Alveole played on my mind. I don’t know what I’ve experienced, and I’m not sure I even liked it. I struggled to grasp its meaning but couldn’t put it down. Repeatedly leaping the spikes sent me a little insane, and I felt trapped inside a game that gave minimal hints.
The limited gameplay and unusual premise won’t be for everyone! On console, the following will be niche even amongst the puzzle genres hardcore fan base. With a minor amount of logical thinking, and mainly trial and error leading the way, it’s more of an experiment than a puzzle, per se. This will limit its appeal and stunt the recognition this odd title deserves.
Alveole uses minimalist imagery and a monochromatic palette.
I may not have fully understood the concept, but the presentation resonated with me. The simple monochromatic colour palette was as striking as the sharp lines and basic imagery. A large wheel sits in the middle of an almost empty room. Visual clues are dotted around the screen that disappear as you solve each mystery. The protagonist is an outline of a man who moves smoothly within his rolling prison. The game lacks complexity, and what you see is what you get. I loved its straightforward approach, and it proves that less is more.
The feeling of deja vu is also apparent in the repetitive audio. The lethargic piano music creates a serene atmosphere that’s calming and pleasant. The constant loop of one track was, however, tedious, but it emphasised the theme perfectly.
Jump, stumble, jump, jump……
Unsurprisingly, Alveole is easy to play! You focus on timing your jump, and that’s it. The game revolves around the pressing of one button, so its simplicity, personified. The challenge arises from working out the cryptic clues and not the control method.
Sadly, the game’s definitive style ensures that the replay value is kept to a minimum. Once you solve each clue, there is nothing else to do, and this limits the gameplay. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive and if the premise intrigues you, it will be an enjoyable couple of hours.
Alveole is a strange artistic experiment.
The idea of being trapped on a treadmill repeating the same task is a daunting prospect. Yet, Alveole has constructed its whole premise around this simple concept. It’s a strange artistic experiment that won’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed unravelling the clues. It’s weird, but I liked it and recommend you to buy it here! No one wants to feel trapped, so unravel the clues and escape your mundane existence.