You can't hear your heartbeat, but you can feel it pounding in your temples. You can't hear the slap of your feet against the rooftop, but you can feel the building shudder beneath you. All that fills your ears is the thunder of the mechanical monstrosities moving through the city at your back with cold precision. Maybe you're not important enough for them to notice, but you don't dare stop to find out. All you can do is keep running for as long as your legs will carry you. Or until something stops you permanently. Is it a nightmare? Or is it Canabalt from Adam Atomic?
Created for Experimental Gameplay Project's 2009 August theme of "Minimal", Canabalt is a brief but addictive little action game. How brief? Well, that depends on you. You play a frantic man fleeing the destruction of his city by giant robots. You control him as he hurdles across buildings, leaps over gaps and obstacles, and tries to stay one step ahead of the mayhem. This, of course, would be much easier if people would stop leaving office chairs in his path. And dropping bombs. And destroying buildings beneath him. His reward? High score, baby!
Canabalt handles everything except jumping for you, and all you need to do is tap [X] or [C] at the right moment to cause our hero to vault over obstacles. The game is randomised to a certain extent, so there's no point in plotting out your course. No, you're going to have to deal with things as they come, and timing will play a big part in it. Jump too soon, and you may plummet off a building. Jump too late, and you may miss that plate glass window you were trying to smash through, Bruce Willis style. And you'll keep doing it until you miss. All you're aiming for here is a high score, represented by how far you run.
But Canabalt is so well presented that it's easy to keep coming back to it. There's so much going on around you that you'll want to stop and smell the roses, but there's that whole "rampaging robot" thing to worry about. So you keep moving, trying not to get distracted by how wonderfully detailed the environment is. Birds take indignant flight at your passage, and giant robots duke it out in the background. It's all very lovely and full of poignant subtext. And awesomeness. Canabalt is a prime example of a simple idea executed extremely well. It's not going to consume your day, but makes for an addictive addition to your coffee breaks.
Just remember, real life is not like a flash game. In the event of robot rampage, please proceed in a calm, orderly fashion to the nearest exit. Because that'll give me time to beat all of you suckers out the door first.
Thanks to Jeff for sending this one in! :)