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Plain Sight


Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

You guys are lucky I'm a professional. Otherwise, I might give Plain Sight 12 out of 10 just on principle. I might even do that anyway. We'll see.

Understand that Plain Sight is a multiplayer indie game for PC, available on Steam, about murderous, explosive, acrobatic robots battling one another with katanas in a web of gravitational fields. It's part flight sim, part Jedi Knight, part vertigo-inducing spectacle, part experiment and all risk-reward. What kind of a monster would go and break apart a game like that to say whether it's worth buying? You might as well dissect a woman to determine that yes, she has healthy kidneys and firm, spongy lungs is therefore probably worth going out with.

I'd argue that a solid percentage of gamers could watch this video and know that they need Plain Sight in their lives, just like that, and that not knowing what on Earth is going on in the video is not an obstacle. For the rest of you... ah, well. Here we go.

Play in Plain Sight is curious, but fairly simple. You control a robot with a katana. You can run, jump, and you can hold down the left mouse button to charge up a lightning-fast dash. Charge up one of these dashes with an opponent in your field of view and you'll begin locking onto them, just like getting a missile lock in a flight sim. At any stage of the lock you can unleash the charge and go dashing off towards your opponent, although unfinished locks will only propel you in your opponent's direction, as opposed to straight into their robo-face. If you do hit, that's your opponent reduced to a spray of robo-bits. There are no health bars and no glancing blows. You're either dead or you're a survivor.

For a game with such sugary, otherwordly visuals where it's often a challenge to see what's going on, Plain Sight is a pretty awesome title.

Surviving is a matter of jinking away from opponents, ducking behind obstacles, and generally leaping about like the offspring of a ninja and a career jerk. The shift key comes in handy here, sending you vertically downwards towards the floor no matter what stage of your aerial acrobatics you're in.

Except the 'floor' is relative. In the first of Plain Sight's wonderful twists, whatever surface you're nearest to acts as the floor. Propel yourself (through charges and jumps) more than half way towards a ceiling, miniature moon or floating cube and you'll end up falling towards that, instead of back down. Go running off the side of a road and you'll end up standing on the narrow side, or the bottom.

This is every bit the enjoyable head trip it sounds like, but it's also an integral part of the combat because it opens up new avenues of escape. You can fling yourself off platforms and go curving round to land on the reverse side, or hurl yourself like a rocket to the safety of far-off objects, or (brilliantly) lock yourself into orbiting something small, like a floating path.