Warp Turns A House Party Into A Cute Adventure Puzzler

Puzzle games over the past few years have focused around physics, and around playing with those physics to accomplish goals. Warp features a cute little alien who dies from one bullet and teleports a couple feet at a time. Yes, this is a video game, not an upcoming kids cartoon.

Warp is a simple puzzle game that features Zero, an alien captured by humans who are experimenting on him like a lab rat somewhere below the sea. They’ve surgically removed a tool on his stomach, and Zero is the cutest depressed thing you’ll ever see. Drooped shoulders, sad face…until he suddenly and mistakenly gets that tool back and starts teleporting all around the undersea lab/military facility.

As Zero, players must escape the evil humans and their big guns, pompous attitude and fully-automatic robotic weapons, all the while gaining more abilities and more powers. Zero starts out with a simple teleport, which just shoots him a few feet forward, enough to get through a single wall. It isn’t before long that he can warp directly into objects like barrels and blowing them up. And doing the same to people.

Yes, Zero can make people explode violently like human meatsacks. The cuddly alien doesn’t have to; players can avoid human contact altogether, make one human shoot the other, make a person faint from exhaustion, and many more potential and painful endings. This ability is the only direct attack that Zero has against his human oppressors.

Along with warps, Zero will eventually learn three additional powers: Echo, which creates a miniature alien that players can control and use as a doppleganger; Swap, which enables Zero to swap places with objects or people that he’s in close contact with; and launch, which shoots whatever Zero teleports into to it’s gory doom.

These powers can also be used in multiple ways and combined. Players can use Echo to distract guards or to go through an unsafe area and then Swap places with it. Launched items or people can bowl over a number of human pins. And with in-game currency (of grub) abilities can be upgraded. Some of the upgrades include silent teleporting, fast warping, creating bomb Echos, and more.

The game also includes a number of challenge rooms that test the core powers with timed missions or very straightforward puzzles. Challenge maps include things like killing all enemies within a certain time or getting to the end before time runs out.

I played through the first level of Warp, and it is dashingly cute. Scientists will cower in fear in a cartoonish fashion, and the art style is a very similar to The Incredibles; long heads, long arms and legs, and an almost wobbly demeanor. Hell, even the boss commander looks like a Russian bear. There’s nothing to take seriously, which makes for the light mood that keeps it from becoming frustrating.

Warp will release for XBLA during the month of House Party (February 16-March 16).

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