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Gameverse | March 26, 2017

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Spate’s Unusual Mechanic

Zebulon Rogers

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Eric Provan’s Spate, a 2.5d platformer set in a phenomenal surrealist steampunk world where a spate of rain continues to flood a world forced to resort to steam technology, is set to be one of the next big Greenlight games on Steam. The world is an interesting mash-up of visual styles that span the likes of Bioshock crossed with a heavy helping of Tim Burton’s dark eccentric themes. The game tells the story of Detective Bluth, a private investigator hired by an unnamed woman to follow her husband who takes daily trips into what is called the ‘X Zone’. When not fighting his way through the environments of the X Zone, he is battling with his grief over the death of his daughter.

This is where Spate has an unusual mechanic: it uses a particularly extreme alcoholic beverage to give your character temporary superpowers that are necessary to complete the game’s many challenges. Granted, alcohol has been used in games both current and classic to give the player special abilities and humorous effects, but it is unique in this regard in that it is both a central game mechanic and an actual part of the game’s emotional themes. The trailer shows Bluth being able to run and high speeds, jump long distances, and see things that were otherwise not visible. The level of intoxication is shown via what looks But it is also used for a different and much more somber purpose. A father has lost his daughter, and he gulps Absinthe to numb the pain.

Absinthe is not your Superbowl Sunday libation and certainly not your relaxing bottle of suds at the end of the day. But rather an oft-banned drink that must be diluted in a certain way before it can be safely imbibed. Yet in Spate, it gives the man super powers, and likely with a high cost that plays into the mystery at the heart of Bluth’s story. It is not new for games to deal with real world problems in a gaming fashion, such as in Depression Quest which illuminates the burden of living with clinical depression. But unlike Hotline Miami, a game that is both a celebration and a social commentary on video game violence of the most brutal kind, Spate has touched on a serious note that could very well be an effective theme at the end of the game. As mentioned on the game’s info site, “The mechanic is meant to mirror the emotional seesaw battle of drinking.”

Spate is available for preorder for $10.00 and likely will be available soon via Steam Greenlight.