In the late ’70s and early ’80s, video games were just beginning to crawl. But with employees at Atari experimenting with drugs and theorizing new ideas while fraternizing in the corporate hot tub, programming and hardware limitations didn’t get in the way of a vision of a new experience.
Since then, there’s been less creativity in the interest of marketability (with several notable exceptions, like Rez and flOw).
But the iPad has started a renaissance for the one-off app that cares as much about the general ambiance as it does the gameplay. Eufloria, by tiny studio Omni Labs, is $5 app that’s a perfect example of the trend, and it’s an addictive little game to boot. Inspired by the work of theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, who wrote about terraforming asteroid fields, you’re essentially a god, tapping your way from planet to planet, spreading seeds as you go. The seeds grow into trees, the trees release more seeds, and you colonize again–sometimes encountering a seed skirmish along the way.
“It is easy and relatively cheap to develop on iPad without the need for third parties to get involved and dilute the original vision of the games. This is a big deal!” Rudolf Kremers, Eufloria’s designer, tells Co.Design. “Quirky games can find their own audience, and are not necessarily distorted through a committee design process instigated by people who don’t know how to make games. This leads to purer experiences that fail or succeed based on their own merit.”
Eufloria’s mechanic isn’t wholly original–few games can pull off that feat–but the art design itself creates individuality. Every detail in Eufloria is a touch more beautiful than it needs to be. From the hypnotic ambient score by Brian Grainger, to the flourish of organic animations by Alex May, when you play Eufloria, you’ll feel like you’re doing something new, and you’ll enjoy doing it.
[Hat tip: Creative Applications]