In Technotopia, a red square steals paintings because a green square asked him to.
Playing as a criminal in video games is not entirely uncommon. In most cases your character is driven to a life of crime by certain circumstances, but occasionally you play someone who is a criminal because they’re just a bad person. I’m often uncomfortable playing as these characters — that’s really more of a personal thing, so no judgement here — but I don’t think I’ve ever played as a thief that is nothing more than a red square, like in Technotopia.
In Technotopia, you play as the Red Guy, who is approached by the Green Guy — a green square, perhaps unsurprisingly — who asks you to steal paintings. The Red Guy is told his daughter will be put through college in exchange for these daring raids, and so your morally questionable quadrilateral heads to the nearest museum to being pilfering paintings.
This is, at its heart, a very simple platform game. You move from left to right, collect a painting, and then head to the exit. Along the way you will have to avoid security cameras and laser traps that will send you back to the start of the stage. The cameras have very clear vision cones — sectors if you’re being picky — and can be avoided by using platforms to stay out of view. The lasers are often invisible, but can be revealed or switched off in a few different ways.
And that’s about it. There really isn’t much to Technotopia at this stage. It’s a fairly bare bones experience that’s over fairly quickly — at least this Early Access version is anyway. There’s a story of sorts that may be expanded on with the full release due to events that occur at the end of the demo, but even that is told in fairly simplistic ways, with basic cutscenes combined with text boxes for dialogue.
The presentation also needs quite a bit of work. Everything looks incredibly basic, being made of mostly very simple geometric shapes. The characters are squares, the paintings look as though they were made in MS Paint, and the stages have no personality. Every level is just a grey background with black platforms. The lack of incidental detail really stands out. As does the lack of sound! There is no music or sound effects that I could hear, nor any options to turn them on.
With that said, there are at least a couple of positives. I liked being able to use an aerosol can to reveal invisible lasers. It’s a simple idea, but something that adds an extra layer to an otherwise very simple game. There’s also a UV torch that reveals hidden messages, and an ice thrower — which seems out of place in a stealth heist game — that freezes cameras. The controls are also quite sharp, and any failure is almost certainly down to your carelessness rather than the game being unfair.
Sadly though, there’s very little to Technotopia. There are so many simple things that could make this a more interesting game. Stages could have multiple routes, or patrolling guards that could add more depth. Moving blocks to black cameras or lasers would make things more challenging. Puzzles that alter routes by turning different lasers on and off would add complexity that is currently lacking. Adding more detail to the background of levels would give them some personality and make the world more interesting.
I don’t want to be too down on a developer’s first attempt, but there are a number of things that Technotopia could do to improve. Hopefully Island Games will keep trying at this and other games, as there is some potential there.
Technotopia by IslandGames is currently available on Itch.io on Early Access.