StrangeClimber, a Virtual Playground

Zyngor | Saturday, August 23, 2014
I was checking out my Twitter feed earlier today when I saw PC Gamer posted their best free games of the week. Naturally, my eyes widened in gaming greed when I saw "free," so I decided to check it out. After checking out the selection of five games, the first one on the list, StrangeClimber, interested me enough to give it a whirl. Perhaps it was their shoutout to Far Cry 3's radio towers that did it?

Anyways, StrangeClimber, developed by Strangethink, utilizes procedurally-generated geometry to create your very own Aggro Crag to master. Well, other than the smoke and falling obstacles. The  objective is simple - climb. There are always multiple ways to get to the top, and because it is randomly designed each time, you'll always have a new tower to scale.

First off, there is no fall damage, so if (and/or when) you teeter off an edge, the only penalty is having to start back from square one. If you are having difficulty with a certain layout, pressing "G" on the keyboard will reset the current design with a new one (and start you back on the ground). Controls are very simple: WASD + mouse for movement and camera panning, Space Bar/Left Click for jumping, and Shift/Right Click to sprint. Holding the jumping key longer will result in a higher jump, which will be necessary in order to make vertical and horizontal jumps possible.

There is a pretty mellow trance-like tune in the background, which is soothing at first, but may become monotonous over a length of time. As for the gameplay, this may not be the game for you if you are easily prone to raging. Because of the touchy controls, it is fairly easy to misplace your footing and plummet toward the ground. There were times that I felt like I should be able to make a full jump (didn't see any geometry above me), but I was only able to make a partial jump. The game textures can also sometimes make it a little difficult to tell exactly how objects are extending, though panning the camera with the mouse should help alleviate this.

I'd love for there to be perhaps another mode or option to make quick saves during your journey up the tower. I think this would help to ease those with less patience that may otherwise just ragequit after a couple falls (especially as you get far up). I have not yet made it up a tower myself, though I've only had about an hour of experience with the game thus far.

Overall, this is a great virtual parkour climbing experience. This kinda feels like one of those games that could work on the Oculus Rift. It'll take a little while to get a grasp on your jumping limitations, and you'll experience plenty of those critical jumps where it's "all or nothing," but I find this to be an enjoyable free-to-play jungle gym. I'm not totally sure what happens when you make it to the top, but based on what I've experienced along the journey, I can imagine it'll certainly be rewarding either way.

You can either play StrangeClimber online here (it uses the Unity engine, and you'll need to have to have the web player downloaded), or you can scroll down a bit and download the standalone game on the same page.

And miles to go before I leap...

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