There were an abundance of multiplayer indie titles on offer at PAX Aus 2015, but few were about letting players work together as opposed to against each other, let alone cooperate as a single entity.
Between swinging swords and axes at other players in Swordy and shooting fireballs at wolves in Lupinball, I stumbled upon one of the most enjoyable experiences I had at PAX Aus late last year, a little title called The Incredible Journey of You and I by Canberra-based husband and wife indie developer team Shy Kids Club.
The Incredible Journey of You and I is a co-operational experience that sees two players control a ship throughout a wonderfully bright and colourful 2D world. One player is given control of the (adorable) ship while the other is in charge of firing projectiles at enemies, acting as a single entity – but that’s only initially. As the players traverse through the world, jumping between pockets of air and water, the environment forces players to switch their roles on the fly. It’s all about communication and good timing. Players need to know how talk to each other and plan their strategies if they want to reach the end of the deceivingly cute levels.
I had the pleasure of meeting Craig and Nic at their booth at PAX Australia. Craig was nice enough to walk me through the tutorial and the demo they had available while he told me about Sky Kids Club and their philosophy towards making games. “It wouldn’t be an indie game if we didn’t talk about feelings” he told me.
The Incredible Journey draws a lot of parallels with a similar recent title for the Wii U (in fact, the very first game that OK Games got to play and review together) Affordable Space Adventures. Both games focus on a co-op experience that requires players to pilot a single ship but operate the ships various components individually as a team. Both games require a great deal of communication and really offer a different type of unique and challenging gameplay.
But while Affordable Space Adventures sees players take the plunge into the darkest depths of outer space, The Incredible Journey is set in a much brighter and more attractive world whose style feels like a brilliant combination of modern children’s cartoons and those cute ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ campaign videos that went viral not too long ago. Nic’s unique and exceedingly cute art style featuring caterpillars vomiting rainbows and creatures with sunglasses and pompadours keeps the players smiling and laughing the entire time, negating any of the frustration that may come from those more challenging parts of the game. It feels like a fun adventure through a neapolitan-coloured wonderland that just oozes not just polish but also charm.
After completing the demo and enjoying my time with it thoroughly, I just had to drag another member of the OK Games team back to try it out. This time I was the one explaining the controls and guiding us through the level; the torch had been passed on. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the unique gameplay though, Craig told me of two players that had never met before sharing and enjoying the experience as they communicated to work together. It’s just one of those games that builds friendships. In a way, it almost feels intimate.
While not super in-depth, the experience is just so brilliantly positive and built on simple pleasure. It’s hard not to recommend this little gem to to anybody that’s a fan of couch co-op games or a more experienced gamer looking to share the fun with a less experienced friend or family member.
The Incredible Journey of You and I has just been greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Make sure you keep an eye on this great little co-op journey as it hopefully releases in 2016.