Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
Games with an exploratory bent aren’t new. One of the main reasons The Legend of Zelda and Metroid continue to be classics is that the gated, open world nature of them gave fascinating spaces for people to explore in. But what about games that uses that exploration drive as its main design conceit? That’s where this week’s game comes in.
Released as a freeware title after six months in development in 2003, Seiklus is a 2D game made by cly5m. The plot is that you’re a small, white blob of a character who is separated from his girlfriend by a meteor strike and must wander the world to reunite with her. It’s a simple premise that isn’t explored much more in the game, as the focus isn’t the character, but the world your character has to explore. The art has a hand-drawn look to them, giving the game an amateur’s touch that ends up being endearing.
With simple jumping, moving, and climbing mechanics, players explore a place of giant plants and insects, underwater caves, crypts, and mores. Collectibles litter the world to provide some direction and motivation, and hidden areas provide pleasant surprises. The game doesn’t incorporate combat mechanics or any enemies, but still manages to be entertaining. While the game is small, it’s a big, bold design choice that continues to be so today. Games like Dear Esther, Knytt, and the upcoming Gone Home are all attempts of making games that focus on spaces worth being in as opposed to creating a set of interconnecting, complicated systems meant to challenge players. Even the cult hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent falls somewhere on the spectrum closer to this design philosophy than something like Resident Evil.
While it may or may not get the recognition it deserves, Seiklus is an indie game that managed to encapsulate and then evolve on ideas from the past, making them new. It’s worth checking out, even more so as it’s free to all.
You can pick up Seiklus for free for PCs from the game’s site here.