When I first loaded up Michael P. Consoli's Against the Wall I felt the early onset of panic. In front of me, stretching out in all four directions was a vertical wall made of blocks of varying sizes.
Behind me there was only sky.
That's how this independent game begins, presenting the player with a simple choice: Up or down? Peering over the edge of the tiny platform I was perched on I saw nothing but bare wall and emptiness. Above me, in the distance, some sort of strange windmill was spinning, jutting out from the wall defiantly.
The choice really wasn't much of a choice. The moment the game began my every instinct drove me towards that stable platform above, the more firm floor beneath my feet the better.
So I climbed, utilising the game's unique sliding block mechanics to draw the individual blocks making up the wall from their positions, forming staircases, jumping platforms; anything I needed to get higher. The blocks slid from the walls like drawers in some sort of impossible filing system. Getting caught in front of one meant a fall that demonstrated the infinite nature of the surface. Only by quickly pulling out blocks as I fell could I save myself, and by then stability was even further out of reach.
I restarted, fell some more, and 15 minutes later took my first steps onto the windmill platform, so stable and reassuring. The feeling of relief was enormous, but I wasn't home yet. I looked up and began to climb.
In its current alpha state, Against the Wall is a simple game that evokes powerful, sometimes primal feelings.
The New Jersey-based Consoli wants to improve upon it, adding music, more programmers, and more money, things I hope don't ruin the purity of the experience.
Luckily the alpha build is available for all to play at the link below, so you can see what I just saw. Just try not to look down.
Against the Wall Alpha (Requires Unity Web Player) [Official Website]