Y’know, it’s not often you get a revival of the 50s/60s kitsch.
Every game is quick to parody and reference the Disco Infernos of the 70s and the cheese of the 80s but never anywhere else. You never see a joke level based on Plan 9 From Outer Space, or the original Avengers series, which is as dense as a collapsed star. In all reality, people just like to rip off the 70s because it’s the easiest to emulate. Cococucumber decided to raise the stakes however, with Planet of The Eyes.
This weird experiment comes to us from Toronto-based developer Cococucumber, who as far as I can tell, are a team of two with a few contributors here and there. They’ve only released one other game, Bunny Bonker, on iOS and Android stores, with another console release by the name of Riverbond set to be unleashed in 2018. Judging from the looks of things, if it’s anything like today’s topic, then I will personally rob the money needed to purchase it.
You are a robot, which looks like a Polaroid got glued onto a Nintendo Famicom, who crashes down on an unknown planet, possibly made out of eyes. With an audio log left behind by your possible guardian, explaining that your unknown mission has been met with a case of “exploding transport”, you seem to be set on finding him, and find yourself pursued by cartoon versions of H.R. Giger’s work.
Planet of The Eyes has a goal, and it wants to succeed at it no matter what. If you thought LIMBO was way too depressing, like a Slipknot music video directed by the guy behind the Disney deaths, then Planet of The Eyes has a steal for you. It takes inspirations from the sci-fi buzz of the 50s, from Ed Wood’s infamously awful tripe, to more cult classic releases like The Day The Earth Stood Still and I kept getting a small vibe of the original Kaiju films from the late 60s.
Graphically, it doesn’t look too taxing, but it manages to capture the feel of old movie posters perfectly. The bright colours and basic lining of everything make it look unique, in a world where the arty platformer is in need a new set of brushes. That’s where Flannel of The Pies succeeds, in it’s basic reinvention of the formula.
It’s not as narratively packed as its other competitors, however, even with the promise Cococucumber have proposed. Since we’re dealing with the cult phenomenon of insanely stupid 50s sci-fi, I’m not expecting something as dense as a collapsed star, like The Stanley Parable, and that’s good enough for me. It’s definitely more involving though.
With it being an atmospheric puzzle-platformer, there’s not much in the way of narrative variety, save for a single voice who leaves various audio logs. He explains your situation and life with a bitter undertone as he explains the prejudice you faced before your companions on the space trip. He does help elevate the story, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was like the Man from Dear Esther, who read most of his lines like you would a shopping list.
But speaking of Dear Esther, the player interaction with the world is realistic and thoroughly enjoyable, unlike many others in the genre. There’s riding through lava, a massive laser chasing you down through chasms and lakes, and even an explosive finish which kept me to the edge of my seat. But the problem comes from it’s 90-minute length, which is insulting, especially when you consider the fact that many films it’s inspired by, last longer than Manlet of The Guys.
The “gameplay” is challenging, but only in the sense that the robot is a cumbersome piece of crap. Imagine the robot Honda made but with one eye. He constantly gets ripped up, crushed and shocked by the world but it’s not even enough to extend any form of enjoyment, or an actual extension of game length. I can see this game being completed in an hour, if not minutes if you had the skill for it.
The pacing and balance is perfect throughout, with the high points being stimulating enough to captivate you, but it’s over before you can blink. The game lasts for about an hour, and even for it’s many, many positives, the $10 price tag might shy away some potential patrons.
Tunnel of The Lies works perfectly fine, like a dream even. But it doesn’t have enough of anything to regard it as a classic of the arty platformer, or to be remembered in the years to come. I loved what I saw, but it was like sunlight through prison bars. A reminder of what could be achieved, had they known what was possible.
A surprisingly endearing adventure that, while pretty to look at, doesn't have the same impact its predecessors had.