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Navigate variable gravity and four-dimensional space in free game The Grandfather Machine

The Grandfather Machine

The post-holiday weekend is the perfect opportunity to kick back and unwind with something a little slower, a little easier, a little more experimental. The Grandfather Machine – a project led by NFTS Games student Shuaiying Hou – is a short but sweet little game of puzzling navigation set in a labyrinth where gravity’s effective direction is variable, and the space around you isn’t quite as predictable as you might hope.

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It’s probably best to download The Grandfather Machine and play it for yourself rather than watch the gameplay video above – save the clip for afterwards, as it includes some interesting Making Of footage, too.

The Grandfather Machine isn’t a very long experience (although you can hit the L button to access an additional, extra surreal bonus level), but it’s an impressive piece of work and full of clever audio-visual design. I especially love the look of the ‘teleporters’ created out of racks upon racks of Polaroid cameras, adding to the surreal nature of the environment as a whole.

The FMV narrator, appearing in levels as a hologram delivers a decent performance, although he will end up talking over himself if you rush due to each video playback node acting independently of any others. It’s probably best to take things slow and let him finish talking before you move on to the next chamber and next little puzzle.

While nothing especially taxing on the ol’ noodle (this is more of an atmosphere-piece than anything), you might have to stop and think a little from the second map onward. If there’s one tip I can give, it’s to look down for the telltale blue corner-piece of a staircase on the edges of platforms, meaning you can walk safely over an edge instead of fall into the digital void beyond.

You can grab The Grandfather Machine on Itch.io here, and the instructions are written on the site itself. While free, there is the option to tip the developer a couple dollars if you enjoy what you played, though. Support your local indies, eh?