I’ve been following Headlander since the first trailer appeared on the DoubleFine YouTube channel sometime ago. The premise of the game is simple: you’re the last organic being left in the known universe and your goal is to figure out why that is and survive. The catch? You’re simply a head in head in a really fancy jar. Simple enough right? Not exactly.
While at PAX East I played a demo that consisted of the games first level where I discovered, through relatively simple controls, that this isn’t a simple platformer. Right off the bat you learn that your jar can detach to and reattach to various sockets found within a given level. The players first task: detach from the strange socket you’re connected to and attach yourself to the body of a near by robot. Once you’ve learned this simple task of flying over to a given thing and having its abilities while attached to it the world is now yours for the taking.
The goal of this introductory level was to escape the spaceship you’re currently on before it explodes. There isn’t a timer in this introductory level so you’re free to take your time and learn how to control the various robot bodies and sockets you find as you control the ship. There is no one “best” body you can obtain. Each one has its own unique set of abilities and sometimes a task can only be completed by detaching from your current host and just manually flying your defenseless head to the next room.
Visually the game isn’t going to win any awards for mind blowing graphics but it’s overall theme and visual style very much echo the 1960’s and 70’s science fiction universe in which this game is clearly based. Given this was still a fairly early demo of the game there were a few little hiccups here and there but given the amount of polish DoubleFine gives their games I’m sure everything will by release day.
When the demo ended I was left wanting more. There were times where I felt a bit confused on how to solve a given challenge but the game lays everything out in such a way that as long as you play with the environment you’ll likely figure it out or get that hint you need. If you’re a fan of non traditional platformers with a puzzle elements, Headlander is a title you should keep your eyes on in 2016.