Developer: Brandon Brizzi
1000 Amps is very much the little game that could. Brandon Brizzi's one-man indie effort modestly runs in a windowed Flash player, portraying a small and simple world of deep blacks and stark whites, devoid of colour and the flashy contrivances that we're used to in an age where bigger is the new better. But big things frequently stem from deceptively small packages, and 1000 Amps manages to deliver a thoroughly exceptional and addictive 2D platformer for an obscenely low price.
The premise, as is so often the case with emergent independent hits, is beguilingly simple. You'll control an adorable plug who's tasked with restoring power to an enormous electrical system, which takes the form of a sprawling labyrinth consisting of many interconnected rooms. You'll start each segment in pitch blackness, with the objective being to find and touch electrical nodes that bring light to the darkness as well as forming a series of boxy platforms and mazes. Simple WASD controls allow you to jump, shuffle and eventually teleport around each room, butting your bulb against each invisible panel and rendering them visible.
Each discrete area contains a number of power nodes that light up when touched, and every one you find fills a battery meter that increases the height of your jump. Finding them all permanently illuminates the room and completes the section - but leave beforehand, and the lights go out. Gameplay is therefore much more nuanced and compelling than traditional 2D platformers as you'll have to find and illuminate the maze yourself... memorise it... and then finally solve it. It's a fantastically simple idea that soon challenges you to ever-increasing feats of mental agility thanks to conveyor belts, temporary nodes and all manner of electrical hazards.
As mentioned, 1000 Amps is an enormous maze rather than a selection of linear levels (Metroidvania is the trite term we usually deploy in cases like this), which lends an intoxicating feeling of exploration and discovery to the action; amplified by the fact that you're literally bringing light to the darkness and forging your own path through the unknown. Admittedly, it's a little too easy to accidentally leave a room (causing your progress to reset), but it's a small niggle in an otherwise astounding package.
But presentation ultimately sells 100 Amps. Whereas most games scream and posture for every shred of attention, 100 Amps subtly soothes, coaxes and purrs; drawing you inexorably and willingly into its addictive clutches through your own free will. The monochrome motif is simple, streamlined and minimalist to the extreme, but coupled with the ambient glow of the lights and Plug's adorable sound design, resembles an abstract work of art crossed with a complex circuit diagram. Each blocky platform or node you touch produces a soft piano note that randomly and organically creates its own dynamic soundtrack. It's unique and beautiful in its simplicity - which is a reasonable assessment of the game in general.
Of course, there will be those who balk at paying any money for a Flash game, especially one that behaves somewhat erratically if you increase the screen size. Others will show a casual interest but dismiss it quickly while saying "I'll wait for the mobile version." Don't be one of those people. For £3.59, there really is no excuse to sample this exquisite little gem.
- Striking, soothing and unique audiovisual presentation
- Innovative gameplay
- Exceptional value
- Slightly too easy to bounce out of particular rooms
- Small windowed screen size, slowdown at higher resolutions
The Short Version: 1000 Amps packs huge ideas, exquisite gameplay and thoroughly arresting art design into its unassuming little package. Buy this brave indie gem immediately.