Juice (hands-on preview)

Juice (hands-on preview)

Playing hyde and seek with unsuspecting citizens in this upcoming indie

The singular premise behind Juice doesn’t become apparent right away. It looks incredibly simple, with notebook-style hand drawn people and environments and a lot of red ink for blood, and we just walk around crunching on folk. Just punch! And eat! And that’s it!

But once we’ve eaten everyone something strange happens: we’re transported to.. a house? And we’re just walking around, cleaning stuff and doing chores? That’s weird. Well, it WOULD be weird if it wasn’t for the TV in the background blaring a special report warning citizens to stay indoors. But why? Hmm. The helicopters zooming overhead and the loud sirens in the background might be a sign. I guess we’ll just get some coffee and finish our chores for the day and go to bed.

And then… we’re the monster again.

Aha! We’re BOTH the human and the monster. During the day things are getting increasingly worrisome and locked down, and in the evenings we’re the cause of it. We’re turning into a beast hell bent on eating and destroying everything, murdering our neighbors, and causing chaos.

The game, a First Person Slaughterer (feel free to use that) by developer Colorfiction, has that “anything goes” indie spirit that lets a creator go wild with a premise. Its developer has been working on the game part time for years, and hopes to go full-time on the project soon. The PAX East demo includes two modes: A story mode introduces the duality of the human/beast situation, and a special “Juice Feast” mode tasks players with trying to gobble up 300 humans as fast a possible. In both modes herding the humans towards a location is important. They don’t run until we get close, so that lets us corral them together for quicker munching and in greater groups. The controls consist of basic movements and an action button, which is either “kill” in the evening monster mode or “touch something” in the daytime human mode. The game moves really fast, and it can be easy to miss a human, but there’s no time limit so scouring the back yards and houses of the unsuspecting isn’t frustrating or long.

The simplicity of the visual style is also endearing, because I can fondly recall drawing black & white monsters and dragons on my notepads during elementary school days.

It’s a silly, fun package that somehow works magically in an expo environment. Juice doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s available to wishlist on Steam.