Twice a year, the #PitchYaGame Awards puts a call out for independent game developers around the world to share their latest creations, with cash prizes awarded to the best entries. The latest call for entries was yesterday, and it included a wonderfully original game called Viewfinder that’s part Portal, part Inception, with a dash of Pokémon Snap, and I’ll raise hell if it doesn’t win.
Describing how Viewfinder is played isn’t easy, it’s best explained by simply watching a video of it in action, so please feel free to skip down to the clip embedded below. In its current form, players are dropped into abstract 3D worlds and are challenged with navigating their way across a level from a first-person perspective, but countless obstacles lie in their way, including seemingly impassible gaps and unclimbable structures.
The players aren’t equipped with traditional weapons or building tools to assist them, but they do have access to a Polaroid-like instant camera that can be used to snap 2D photos of the game world itself. That’s great for souvenir collectors, but the instant photos they take can also be held up and overlaid on what the player is seeing in the game, at which point the 2D image will become physical structures incorporated into the game as part of the explorable 3D world.
Viewfinder is also reminiscent of another puzzle game called Scribblenauts which similarly relied on a player’s ingenuity by having them conjure up nearly any object or tool to solve a challenge by simply writing its name in a notebook. In Viewfinder, the instant camera takes the place of that notebook but offers almost an infinite number of ways to solve a challenge, although at the same time it can potentially introduce new ones depending on what you end up adding to that 3D world.
Watching videos of Viewfinder in action, even though the game isn’t finished yet, brings back fond memories of our first exciting glimpses of Valve’s Portal years ago, which brought some much-needed innovation to the first-person shooter genre that didn’t simply involve bigger guns and bigger, badder enemies to blast. Completing Viewfinder won’t require a fast trigger finger, but ingenuity, imagination, and passable photography skills.
Its creator, Robot Turtle, is a game studio founded by Matt Stark’s company, Fern Turtle Games, in collaboration with Robot Teddy. For the time being Viewfinder is the game’s working title, which may or may not change once the game is officially released for PCs and consoles. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive launch date yet, but given the game appears to be breaking new ground, at least in terms of gameplay, we’re happy to let its creators take as much time as they need to deliver what will hopefully be an amazing experience.