An orange-rimmed circle hangs in a black, spherical space, its contours momentarily described by neon-blue hatch lines that pulse in the dark. Hold two thumbs to the screen and light streaks between them, joining up to create a throbbing beam that bisects the darkness. The monolithic lettering 'MENU' appears.
Dropchord is not like the other Double Fine games. Indeed, it appears that this curio from the San Franciscan game studio best known for Psychonauts, Sesame Street and Brütal Legend is a chance for the staff to take a break from all that difficult stuff like characterisation, humour and narrative puzzle design.
These are characteristics by which the studio - and its luminary founder, Tim Schafer - have become known. They are also some of the hardest things to get right in video games. With 2014's Broken Age looming, burdened as it is by the expectations of a successful, multi-million-dollar Kickstarter campaign, small wonder DoubleFine has retreated for a moment into an abstract mobile game - also available on Ouya and for the Leap Motion controller for PC and Mac (see sidebar, below) - which features no characters, no one-liners and a thumping soundtrack to drown out all that peripheral noise.
Psychonauts and Brutal Legend developer Double Fine has announced a new "music-driven score challenge game" entitled Dropchord due later this year on PC, Mac and iOS.
Developed by the key members who worked on Kinect Party, this shiny, abstract rhythm arcade game seems like a surprising move from the developer that's known for quirky, cartoony fare, but it's not as surprising as the fact that it will not only support the upcoming motion sensing Leap controller, but actually debut on Leap Motion's app store, Airspace, before anywhere else.
For those unfamiliar with Leap, it's basically a motion sensing camera that's supposedly at least 200 times more accurate than Kinect. I interviewed Leap Motion's CEO Michael Buckwald last summer.