Once in Space is a downloadable puzzle-platform game for Windows, created by Hempuli, that delivers both content and charm. Set in deep space, you are a lone astronaut trying to collect stars and reach the flag on different constellations of rock. You can change your gravity orientation by walking around corners, and you must be facing the arrow direction of a star in order to collect it. The first level eases you into the game's mechanics pretty easily. Use the [arrow] keys to move left and right, [shift] to jump and [control] to change gravity when near a red corner.
The music (composed by Nifflas of Knytt fame) and particle effects take a simple geometric concept and deliver it as a holistically soothing trip through the cosmos. Unfortunately this aesthetic is thwarted by an atavistic design decision. In this case, atavistic means taking a step back on the evolutionary ladder, pushing Once in Space back to the early days of video gaming.
Giving the player only three lives, lost when you step off into the void or collide with plasma, makes sense from a traditional perspective because it prevents the player from running through the puzzles by dying and re-spawning after getting hard-to-reach stars. But the mechanic of killing players and removing some of their progress is a hold-over from the quarter-munching days of arcade machines. Now, when many games are free, this is not only useless, it's almost malignant and takes what should be a smooth, relaxing, mind-expanding experience and throws in the probability of frustration loops. Doing the same tasks over and over again until they become menial isn't what games are about any more. You begin to wonder why the game isn't called "Many Times in Space".
Overall, however, Once in Space is a great way to spend some of your Saturday afternoon. The music, atmosphere and overall concept are enjoyable, and if you're extraordinarily skilled or have a high level of patience, you'll love it even more.
Download the free full version