Day #4: Machiavelli’s Ascent

Posted: 2010/11/13 in Indie Games
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I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #4, and today’s game is Machiavelli’s Ascent.

Some games talk about simple to learn and hard to master, but few games characterise that as perfectly as Machiavelli’s Ascent. The game has you taking on the role of a jellyfish as you strive to get to the surface. To do so you need to grab air bubbles as you keep propelling yourself up. Movement is done entirely with the two trigger buttons, simply moving you left or right. The presentation is very attractive, trying (and generally succeeding) at looking like a pastel painting in motion.

I almost didn’t like this game, though. My first impression was that I would find it frustrating: when you run out of air you drop back down to the ocean floor and must start over from scratch. But as you get the hang of it, the game begins to take on a hypnotic feel. You slide into “the zone” and before you know it you’re swerving left and right before you even become conscious of where the precious air bubbles lie. That hypnotic feel is enhanced by music and sound effects that, taking a cue from classics like Rez, respond to your play.

This game was a critical darling in the early days of Xbox Live Indie Games, making it a perfect choice for my game-a-day project. As a bonus, this was a 200 Microsoft Point game when it first came out, but is now an 80 MSP game. It’s absolutely worth a download but, if so, make sure to play until the demo timer runs out at a minimum. The game doesn’t come into its own until you get “in the zone”, but the demo was just long enough for me that I did. Machiavelli’s Ascent is a game where the joy is taking “just one more turn”, certain you get can just a little higher next time. I look forward to it.

Tried this already? Vote below. About to try it? Please come back and vote after downloading it.


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