By Marshall Garvey
In the four years and counting of Last Token Gaming’s operation, one of the most gratifying privileges we’ve enjoyed is our deep connection with the local gaming scene in Sacramento, CA. In addition to interviewing local devs and covering local events and expos, we’ve proudly become part of what is a veritable family of gamers and creators. It’s been an almost perfectly commensurate relationship, too: Just a few months before we started in June of 2013, IGDA opened a Sacramento chapter in April of the same year.
One of the greatest bonds we’ve forged has been with Gabriel Gutierrez of Nascent Games, who you may remember we had one of our best interviews with last year. Gabe has numerous projects in the works, but his central effort the past three years has been his minimalist indie sure-to-be hit Crumple. Last week, I had the honor of meeting up with Gabe at Square One Clubs for the first exclusive media preview of the first episode. For those unacquainted, the premise of the game is simple: You control Enve, a helpless, sentient envelope trapped inside a burning envelope factory who needs to escape pronto.
To its benefit, the first complete episode is almost identical to the demo available on Newgrounds, with necessary tweaks and added features. The game has been configured to be compatible with controllers, which I later tested myself at Video Game Extravaganza. Whether with keyboard or controller, the game controls are simple and smooth, aided by prompts that tell you where to go when necessary.
Realizing the importance of replay value, Gabe has added a unique achievement system. The player can fill out a “stamp collection” of feats, including a mystery “ultimate” achievement. There’s a plethora of environmental puzzles with multiple pathways, as well as button interactive puzzles. While you can skip a lot of these if you wish, they have to be solved if you want to fill out the stamp collection. In a brilliant nod to NES/SNES games (as well as my childhood favorite Shadows of the Empire), there’s an ending you can unlock only if you beat the game in under 15 minutes without dying. That alone should guarantee Crumple a place in the speedrunner circuit.
In our interview, I praised Gabe’s minimalist approach to the game’s design, de-emphasizing music in favor of the natural soundtrack of the factory burning and Enve’s quiet shuffling. The finished episode does feature more musical cues, but they don’t compromise the original feeling at all. The music swells at just the right time and then recedes to let the original atmosphere of the burning factory take center stage again. Add in some tantalizing foreshadowing of what’s to come in the later two episodes (as well as a planned epilogue), and I’m excited to see how things conclude.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for this first episode of Crumple, available soon for Xbox One, Steam, Game Jolt, Humble Bundle, Amazon Fire, Google Play, and Itch.io. We’ll post updates on social media when it’s officially up. It’s a huge moment not only for Gabe and Nascent Games, but Sacramento gaming as a whole!