The Steam Greenlight Community has announced the development of Volvox (warning: autoplay video), a puzzle game with the goal of building “the first pluricellular beings.” Written by three students and former students of Italy’s Politecnico di Milano, the game features triangular cells called Trimoebas that roll around under the player’s control and gain abilities as the game progresses. The team, which forms Neotenia, Ltd., won the Italian national competition and is a semifinalist for the 2015 Microsoft Imagine Cup. The first fifteen levels are available as a free Unity WebGL Demo (takes a while to load).
The game reminds me a bit of Lemmings or Lode Runner in its simplicity and focus on solving deceptively simple tasks. It looks good, with a sort of hand-drawn, colored pencil, pastel look. Each trimoeba has an eye that mostly follows the mouse pointer, although they get bored and start looking around if it doesn’t move for a few seconds. Powers (at least those that exist in the demo) are indicated by the affected side of the triangle being colored; for example, blue sides can’t be stuck in glue. The documentation is a little thin right now, and it took me a while to figure out what was expected on the second level.
It’s not really clear to me what the connection to Volvox or to ‘pluricellularity’ is…maybe the developers just thought Volvox was a cool name (and it is). The triangular grid that forms the trimoebas’ landscape does remind me a bit of cytoplasmic bridges among somatic cells, though.
The full version, with 250 levels, is promised by the end of June.