Sending Out An SOS
HIGH: Fourth wall-breaking investigations.
LOW: Preset instant messenger inputs.
WTF: Those crime scene pictures.
Archimedes is like the lovechild of The Ring and SuperHot. I realize how ridiculous that statement sounds, but it’s the best way I can describe it.
In horror film The Ring, a disturbing videotape holding an evil urban legend makes the rounds, and those unlucky enough to watch it die seven days later. Archimedes feels like a videogame version of that, except the dying part.
(Just in case, though, please check on me in a week and make sure I’m still breathing.)
When playing, Archimedes presents itself as a computer operating system modeled after a ’90s version of Windows. Upon booting up its turquoise interface, I had a little time to poke around before an instant message window popped up in the bottom corner — someone needed help, and I was their only way out.
Isaac, the man ‘messaging’ me, said he worked at a research facility and suspected a virus had broken out within the building. As his premises were quarantined, he needed me to investigate from the outside to figure out what was going on.
Although I was skeptical at first, Archimedes got its hooks in me when Isaac asked if I had a paper and pen handy. With zero hesitation I hastily grabbed a notebook before responding “yes” to him. I was thirsty to scribble down some notes and dive deeper into the investigation, and using notes in real life to solve puzzles hits a delicious sweet spot for me.
Archimedes‘ brand of meta investigative horror drew me in so effectively that I didn’t even roll my eyes when typing the phrase ‘meta investigative horror’. It’s also the kind of experience I don’t want to say much about — just know that communicating with Isaac, investigating the outbreak in his company and coming along for the fourth wall-breaking ride was disturbingly delightful.
Archimedes is currently in Steam Greenlight seeking official Steam release, but can be purchased from the developer’s own website for less than $2. Charging a dollar per hour for a unique, intriguing mystery is about as low-cost as it gets, and I definitely recommend Archimedes — just make sure someone’s around to check in on you a week after playing it.
Disclosures: This game was developed and published by Joshua Hughes. Code for this review was obtained via the developer. About 2 hours were spent with the game and it was completed once. No multiplayer modes exist.
Parents: Archimedes is not rated by the ESRB. Some sections of it contain grotesque imagery and mild jump scares. I’d classify this in the Teen or up category if I were speaking in ESRB terms.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Most of Archimedes takes place in a faux-desktop OS with an instant messaging program open. However, one section involves listening to MP3 files and no subtitles are available. A term spoken in an MP3 file is needed as a search term to progress in the game. If players can’t hear it, they probably won’t be able to move on. This could be a major deal breaker.
Remappable Controls: Archimedes requires a mouse (or touchpad) and keyboard. I’m terrible at mouse/keyboard gaming, but because the game doesn’t have intense, urgent sections I had no problems at all. I used my keyboard and touchpad on my laptop with zero control problems. Because most of the game is navigating a faux-desktop OS, if players are familiar with basically any computer navigation, they’ll be fine.
Colorblind Modes: No colorblind options are available.
He has a Bachelor’s in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. He also has a personal blog (who doesn’t?) that he updates sporadically. He’s been writing for GameCritics.com since 2012 and has appeared on the podcast a handful of times.
If you want to dive deep, type his name into a Google Image search and you’ll most likely be treated to a scandalous picture of his Deus Ex tattoo. He also has a music background from 7 years on high school and college drumlines, and last but not least he’s dabbled in parkour. Don’t let those activities fool you about his ambition – he’s in his late 20s and still has no idea what he wants to do with his life.