How can a game made over the course of a weekend remind me of Rez and Crayon Physics Deluxe? By sending me soaring through the universe with simple controls and quirky hand-drawn artwork. Made by a team of 5, The Universe Within puts in the control of a pixellated dot that you need to steer through obstacles as it advances from the the galaxy through the stratosphere and into a human being's cells.
Universe Within was made this past weekend as part of 2012's Global Game Jam, the annual even where thousands of designers and developers come together into small teams that making games practically from scratch. There's always a theme to GGJ games and this year, a picture of an ouroboros — the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail — set up the shared idea this year.
The Universe Within took the theme as two-fold inspiration. The spinning rotation gameplay takes its cues from the circular shape of the ouroboros and the conceptual journey replicates the philosophical idea of the symbol, often invoked to a process that spirals in on itself. Though rough and low-res, Universe Within quickly hypnotises the player and really grabs you once you realise what's happening. Go give it a whirl at http://withinuniversewithin.appspot.com/