I went into this game knowing nothing about it. I had played AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity for several minutes before, and from the screenshots I suspected that 123KI(DTBLAUG) would be somewhat similar. I feel like this game's been in my Steam library forever (later research confirmed it was released in 2010), so I was surprised by how beta the whole thing felt (even later research confirmed it's being sold as an early access title on Steam).
The game opens with a static menu with the voice of a woman who is talking to you about a weird future version of Boston where BASE jumping is illegal but still rad or something and ugly babies and I just don't know. The game feels like an experiment. There are only five levels and there is little polish. Only after looking online did I realize the biggest draw was that you could play through levels generated using your own music.
There are good things about the game. The core gameplay feels good as you BASE jump, gliding as close as possible to abstract shapes. The premise of the narrative, though not fully executed, is interesting. You play as a female BASE jumper who streams her jumps online and has monologues typical of something you might find on twitch.tv today: taking questions from imaginary viewers and bantering to fill menu time. After jumps you gain viewers based on how well you jumped – i.e. how close to obstacles you came (which presumably maps narratively to how interesting it was for the imaginary 'viewers').
However, the game just isn't done. The biggest problem is that there are choices with no good feedback. Score is very abstract and the rate of score-growth isn't communicated very clearly to the player. There is no sense of a good path through the course vs. a bad path through the course. Multiple paths (or rather, the infinity of paths) are presented and the player chooses one and thinks "oh well I guess my score went up." There is no regret for choosing the wrong path or messing up a sequence of obstacles, and at the end of the level there is no communication of how good your score is. It's just a big number with no sense of what is achievable. It could have been a really good run or it could have been a horrible run; there is no way for the player to know. This removes motivation to play again, improve, or explore alternate paths. My emotion after finishing a level could be summed up as "huh." The aforementioned gained viewers are also tabulated at the end of every run, but that doesn't seem to mean anything in the current state of the game either.
Imagine a driving range where you hit your golf ball over a large wall. You can't see how far you hit it, and you have no idea how big the course is or how far other people are hitting it. The act of swinging and hitting the golf ball feels good, and you have a general sense for when you had a good swing and when you hooked the ball. But that's about it. You watch golf balls disappear over the wall and think "okay." That's what this game feels like.
There is a good game buried in 123KI(DTBLAUG), but right now it only seems good for zoning out and doing something with your fingers while listening to your favorite music (which, hey, can still be pretty great).
Did you play 123KI(DTBLAUG)? Let me know what you thought on Twitter. Join me on Thursday as I play AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity.