Student projects can be some of the most innovative, entertaining games available. Simon Fraser University student project Hootlin succeeds in maintaining that welcome stereotype, quietly blurring the line between Limbo and Electroplankton along the way. Well, “quietly” may not be the best way to describe it.
Hootlin’s basic concept is as a platform-puzzle hybrid that rewards the player with audio based on his or her actions. The music is mellow and atmospheric, perfect for the arctic setting. The main character, a sort of adorable penguin-eskimo-ghost creature, traverses through a forest, solving puzzles along the way. Throwing a snowball, jumping on a platform, and solving a puzzle all create unique sounds. By killing enemies or doing less than favorable deeds, the audio gets darker and more disturbing. By solving puzzles and advancing, it becomes more serene.
The tone of the game can change from passive to aggressive if desired, and affects the “ending”. It’s impossible to die, but the game can still end if enough dark acts are committed.
The minimalism of the game’s design, along with it’s stark white (and gorgeous) artwork, combine for an effectively moody experience.
The game, created by students Jenny Shen, Kevin Hustler, Tia Rambaran, Gavin Stinson, and Chris Lu, is nominated for a Canadian Videogame Award. Visit the project’s website to give it a whirl… You’ll definitely be impressed by the students’ ingenuity.