There are some games that I just don’t get. The vast majority of people love them and incessantly talk about them, but for some reason there is a disconnect for me. Most games from Bethesda have this effect on me. I try and try to like them because it seems like everyone and their dog is passionate about these games, but for some reason that lovely hook that locks my attention on a game just never comes. Objectively there isn’t anything wrong with these games. Canabalt is one these games.
Canabalt, developed by Semi Secret Software is a platform survival game. You play as a man running across buildings attempting to survive what appears to be the apocalypse. The trick is there is no escape. This makes the whole idea of running at all rather futile. This fact didn’t seem to phase me as I repeatedly attempted to thwart my inexorable demise.
The primary mechanic of Canabalt is jumping. As you proceed to clear buildings your speed increases. You can slow down slightly by hitting various boxes that are placed in your path. However, hitting too many boxes will slow you too much and makes jumps more difficult. The player does not control the fact that the man runs. This Little Engine That Could character has the mindset of a rampaging Forest Gump hoped up on methamphetamines desperately searching for a bathroom. Even when crazy space debris falls in your way he stays course headstrong and hysterical.
The artistic direction of Canabalt is somewhat unique. The palette is completely black and white, and the presentation of the graphics is primarily in 8-bit fashion. Interestingly despite the 8-bit presentation many little details such as the fleeting birds or passing spaceships make the experience very pleasant. In addition the graphics are liquid smooth with various animations, such as the man’s tuck and roll when landing on lower buildings, impressive.
Canabalts soundtrack and accompanying effects are top notch for an indie game. The electronica track that plays during the frantic ordeal is similar to something you’d hear from one of the Matrix movies. This seems appropriate due to the man’s ability to jump about 30ft in the air and nearly clear full buildings at higher speeds. This is (or definitely seems like) an homage to the opening seen in the first Matrix movie where Trinity escapes the police in a similar fashion.
Overall Canabalt is a decent game worth a play. The experience is a little limited in longevity, but it’s fun. Unfortunately the current price of $2.99 is going to push this game into the “not recommended” section for me, however if you can pick it up as part of the Humble Bundle (still going on as of this writing), or you find it on sale for $.99 then it’s a definite buy.