Ross is a writer, educator, and performer who lives and works in NYC. When he's not doing any of the aforementioned activities, he's playing video games.
I’m always on the hunt for innovative platformers, so I was pumped when I stumbled across Unbound: Worlds Apart. After tinkering with its ingenious portal mechanism for a while in the demo, I’m convinced it’s definitely a title to keep an eye on. Fortunately, the game’s Kickstarter has already nearly doubled its initial goal, and Unbound is expected to come out sometime around the middle of next year. I reached out to its developer, Sergiu Craitoiu of Alien Pixel Studios, to find out more about the game and what we can expect to see when it’s released.
“Unbound: Worlds Apart is an atmospheric puzzle platformer that will immerse you in beautiful, hand-crafted worlds where you can conjure magical portals in order to solve puzzles,” says Sergiu. “The core of Unbound is the magic portals which give the player different mechanics to interact with challenges throughout the game. Inside certain portals, the laws of physics and abilities of the character can change, opening up new and inventive ways to progress.”
While the portal mechanism is Unbound’s standout feature, as a longtime platformer player, it was the interdimensional setting(s) and strange lore that immediately drew me in. “A dark portal suddenly opens, and the beautiful world of Vaiya is attacked by mysterious evil forces. Very few people manage to escape the attack,” Sergiu explains. “Now the only hope of saving the world rests on Soli, a young wizard and a descendant of a great and ancient line of wizards. Now he must discover what has happened and restore peace.”
The demo drops you smack dab in the middle of the unfolding quantum crisis. You control Soli–a tenacious, shadowy, little sprite in a bright red cloak who faintly resembles Vivi Ornitier from Final Fantasy IX. “Soli is the descendant of the guardians of the Holy Crystal, the relic that keeps all the worlds separated and maintains the order and peace between them,” Sergiu continues. “The game features two primary worlds, Vaiya, a beautiful and peaceful place that’s full of life, and Odiya, a barren and hostile realm.”
The way the two worlds overlap and impact the platforming is astonishing from an artistic perspective. Conceptually speaking, the portal mechanism is simply brilliant. Hopping back and forth from the enchanting kingdom of Vaiya into the desolate land of Odiya makes for a breathtaking visual experience, especially when there are creatures like giant spiders stalking you left and right.
“I was inspired by a music video by a band called Architect that had a bubble that displayed images in contrast to the rest of the scene in the background. It was like a glimpse into an alternate world. So I thought: what if we could make a game where the player will always have to be aware of a second reality, be that a better or worse one?” Sergiu recalls.
“So I came up with the main concept of Unbound, where different worlds coexist at the same time, and the player can connect them with a bubble-like portal. We already have six portals implemented so far, only three of which made it into the demo: the alternate reality, reverse gravity, and night vision portals. The other three are still in development and there are four more types to be created by the end.”
“We are about halfway through the development. Most of the mechanics are ready, but we still need to add more content and polish and optimize the game and puzzle designs,” Sergiu elaborates. “The player can expect more monsters to escape from and even bigger worlds to explore. Also, there will be a much deeper story with an alternate ending that will give more gameplay time for players–a lot of side quests and secret places, visual candies, and cutscenes that will make Unbound an awesome experience.”
It sounds like Unbound will feature a lot of fantastic content, and it’s all possible because of backing by platformer fans. “We are very excited about the success of the Kickstarter campaign and eager to resume working on the game,” says Sergiu. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received so far and are extremely happy to be able to continue working on our dream project. A big thank you goes out to all our amazing community members. You’re awesome!”
Be sure to keep up with Unbound: Worlds Apart’s progress and donate to its Kickstarter too, if you like the looks of it. Check out the trailer to see more of the gameplay and how the portals work, or better yet, try out the demo yourself. It’s free and fun and will leave you wanting more.