Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


The Warning Orchestra


I know we like to talk about AAA games being dumbed down and over-tutorialised but to an outsider they can still seem like a blistering attack on the senses. These days, I find the early honeymoon hours often start out with bewilderment rather than wonder as I blunder around for an hour. There's a limit to how much tutorial my brain can internalise in such a short time span.

When I embarked on Prey (Arkane Studios, 2017) it was the same old routine of relying on WASD muscle memories then working through the game’s many systems. Its surface writhed with information: personal and suit health in the bottom left corner; pop-up inventory matrices whenver I examined someone or something; objective updates blasting out across the top of the view and nav markers skating across the screen whenever I turned my virtual head to admire the sheer depth and attention to detail in the Prey environment.

There was another layer of feedback embedded in the game which is not unique to Prey. Feedback I’ve come to resent. Let's call it the warning orchestra.

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Discussion: Corrupted Memory


Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the May edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.


Side by Side: Crawl

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the second series, episode 7 of 10.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly are the real monsters in the unique multiplayer dungeon crawl, Crawl!

  • We recorded this two years ago when it was topical and on early access, so well done Joel for the fast turnaround
  • Crawl is fun, albeit a little complicated - party game for the right crowd
  • Although can be played with 2 human players, we suspect it is better with at least 3

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.


Discussion: Ham on the Holodeck


Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the late April edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.


Status Report: May 2017

This is an update for my YouTube subscribers and includes footage for the in-development Endlight. Watch on YouTube or embedded below:




The Farfield: Found Footage

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

The Dyaltov Pass Incident

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

I’ve been increasingly focused on junk television, likely because both work and play - in the form of Electron Dance writing - tend to be mentally taxing. Firing the trigger on a new, engaging series with multiple storylines is tough. If you want to know how bad it is, I’m still watching the execrable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Confession time: I watch a lot of horror, a lot of rubbish horror. I also have particular dislikes, such as when people are being victimised just for someone’s kicks - I feel exhausted and abused after an experience like Ils, in which a French couple are terrorized in their new country home, or F where school staff and children on detention are terrorized and brutally killed by hoodies. While I like the sense of dread that hangs over the first half of In Fear in which a new couple are lost in the Irish countryside, it eventually degrades into a game of unexplained sadism. In these type of films, the antagonist or antagonists often appear to have superhuman powers to be in the right place at the right time to maximise impact.

The horror film is much more of an audience game that many other film genres; the art of the thrill is the art of designing an intricate roller coaster. Good horror is intensely aware of context and audience expectations with films like Scream and The Cabin in the Woods deliberately exposing the game with a knowing wink to the audience.

I could easily write a whole essay on how I feel about horror but, look, I don’t do much critical pontification about what horror means or why it works. See, I disliked The Bababook which got critics applauding. That shows you my credentials. Even worse, I remain fatally attracted to the “found footage” subgenre, where the film is based on “real footage” recovered amidst mysterious events like a documentary crew gone missing or a spate of murders.

As an accidental connoisseur of this derided subgenre, I've decided to list every found footage film I’ve seen with a little bit of commentary. I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. Here we go.

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Credits Provide Closure

I didn't hire Matt W to write off-topic comments for Electron Dance, but he does it anyway and they're usually worth the pixels they're displayed on. I decided to rescue one particular neglected rant-in-the-comments from Matt and give it its own post. Actually I decided to rescue it last year, but we all know Electron Dance time is the slowest possible time. Anyway, before we get into the rant, Matt would like everyone to know Closure is good and you should play it (if you like platform puzzlers). Happy reading.


Here’s how Closure works. For most of the game, there’s three separate sets of levels that you proceed through linearly. When you start up, there’s an in-engine level select where you walk through a door to one of those sets of levels, then walk to a set of doors to the last level you unlocked, and then a little animation plays as your character turns into the PC for this level. This is kind of annoying to go through every time you boot up especially the “turning into the PC animation” is redundant after the fifth time. But once you’re in the levels, when you finish one you just go on to the next.

When you finish all three sets of levels, another door in the level select screen unlocks, taking you to a new set of harder levels. And when you finish those a giant door in that level select screen unlocks. Therein lies the problem.

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The Stalker From Tölva


The crack of distant gunfire catches my ear and I turn, looking for the source but there’s nothing there but rocks, metal wreckage and mountains. Someone is definitely shooting at someone and if I want to find out what's going on I’m going to have to stop what I’m doing. Perhaps one of my bunkers is under fire and it would be better to shore up defences personally. Perhaps some wandering bandits and Zealots have engaged in battle. Perhaps an enemy site is under attack and it would be too good an opportunity to pass up.

But I was on my way to somewhere new on Tölva, do I really want to change course?

I’ve now written a lot of words explaining my reaction to hearing gunfire in The Signal From Tölva (Big Robot, 2017) but it’s a total fabrication because there is no decision. Instinct spins me around every single time. I head towards the sound of laser weapons punching the air.

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Discussion: The Annual Harvest


Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the incredibly just so late so called March edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.


Dabbling with… Octahedron

The final episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2017.


I spotted the platformer Octahedron (Demimonde Studios) in the Indie Room and, like other countless victims, was drawn to its discotheque visuals. But because so many other victims were snared in its glistening web, I had to go away and come back later. I kept coming back later. I kept finding the seats occupied.

Eventually my final minutes at Rezzed had arrived and I wanted to go home. I wandered over to the Octahedron stand once again and chatted to the developer, Marco Guardia, about how I had kept coming over and kept finding the seats occupied. He was also surprised at how busy his stand had been, but encouraged me to wait for one of the current players to give up their seat.

Now I get suspicious when I see a game with the visual flair of Octahedron, unsure whether it is an aesthetic-first design or a mechanics-first design. There's no real right or wrong of this, really, because sometimes aesthetic births wonderful ideas that a simple brainstorming of mechanics would not deliver. However, while aesthetic-first games can hook you with sensual presentation they can sometimes fail to build on that and feel hollow; Tengami (Nyamyam, 2014) has a beautiful Japanese pop-up book look, but it is padded with sections of tedious, slow walking.

Guardia showed me a picture of the Octahedron prototype (the following picture is taken from Twitter) proving it was mechanics-first:

octahedron original

All the sparkly colour and visual pizazz was added gradually over time, so that it eventually became this:


My turn arrived. Octahedron's central gimmick is that Mr. Octahedron can spawn little temporary platforms. Initially you use these to gain height but they can also be used as a kind of surfboard to swish across the screen. But you can only make two platforms at any one time which limits how far you can go... and also creates a lot of timing-based tension. New ideas emerge on later levels which make it a bit puzzley instead of just testing your reflexes and muscle memory.

Now even though Guardia has done a lot of work to make Octahedron more forgiving, I still felt it was a beast in the challenge department. Aside from the button-pressing anxiety of platform/jump or platform/swish at the right times, there were incidents where one mistake falling down the screen undid a chunk of progress. I can see some finding this frustrating and it's clear Octahedron is currently pitched as a more hardcore title.

Still, I have no problem summing up Octahedron with this one word: compelling. If you're into platformers, this is definitely one to look out for.

Octahedron is still in development although planned for release this year for PC and Mac.

Interested in other games I've dabbled with? Check out the series index!