Null of Hope, a retro first-person adventure RPG produced by Wade Arcade, gives a new twist to the genre and puts you in the game like never before. A ‘list and click’ variant of the popular ‘point and click’ games of the ’80s and ’90s, Null of Hope faithfully reproduces the vibe with period art and music.
The game’s demo level throws you back, back into a time of old wood-paneled tube TVs and 8-bit consoles—a simpler time, when reading in video games was compulsory and the human imagination had to fill the gaps in between.
Still in pre-alpha phase, the demo shows a promising taste of what’s to come for the game’s 4D-enhanced environments, which starts you in the RPG-ubiquitous sewer level (2D) while you play from your bedroom at home (3D).
Environmental 4D effects creep in slowly at first—a dimming of the lights when you escape your cell through a loose sewer grate, a few flies that buzz around your head when you go deeper into the bowels of the dungeon’s drainpipe system. Soon you encounter your first enemy, a group of rats that you must bash to death with your bare fists. Sitting safely in your bedroom, a rat scurries out from behind your tube TV, along with many more effects that I don’t want to spoil for any first-time players of the demo.
Null of Hope doesn’t try to recall any Inception (2010) moments with it’s ‘world within a world’ style (Xzibit memes need not apply), because so far the only part of the game you can actually interact with is the 2D portion of the game. This isn’t a bad thing though, because the focus of the game is clearly on bringing you further into the game’s narrative.
At this stage in development, I found a minority of the 4D effects bordering on gimmicky. Battling a pair of sewer turtles sent my TV jumping dangerously forward on every turn, but presented only one animation for this. A little variation goes a long way, especially when the point of the effect is to scare, startle, or make me giggle with what my dad always called ‘bathroom talk’.
That said, Null of Hope is a delightfully asinine trip into the human imagination that I can’t wait to see more from. You can download the demo here, and if you like what you see, head over to Wade Arcade’s Steam Greenlight campaign to help support the project.
This demo is playable without a VR headset, but we don’t recommended it because your perspective will be fixed on the TV, eliminating a lot of the fun of looking around and experiencing the entirety of the game’s effects.