Oh, Cock It! Receiver Impressions

Oh, Cock It! Receiver Impressions

Wolfire Games, creators of Lugaru and Overgrowth, experimented in first person shooter mechanics and storytelling for the 7 Day FPS challenge. The result is Receiver, a game of highly detailed firearm mechanics and fighting ‘poisonous media’.

In Receiver you play, well, a ‘receiver’, a person who can hear messages sent from some other dimension or future to warn us of the dangerous messages presented to us in media. Your task is to find cassette tapes with recorded versions of these messages, and combat the armed drones and turrets which infest the (semi-randomly generated) apartment block you find yourself in.

Your own weapon against the drones which will tazer you and the turrets which will riddle you will bullets is an M1911  pistol and whatever rounds you can find. Every mechanical function of the M1911 is represented within game mechanics, including everything up to an including locking the slide open to inspect the chamber. For example, loading a new magazine involves button presses for: removing the first magazine, dropping it or placing it back in your inventory, taking a new magazine from inventory, inserting into the magazine receiver, retracting the slide (if the chamber is currently empty). You might also want to toggle the safety on or off, load individual rounds into a given magazine, or… oh, yeah, aim and fire!

Not only is the pistol mechanically represented, but so are the robotic enemies. Each target has visible and separate camera, gun, battery and motor and each element can be individually damaged. Destroying a turret’s ‘neck’ pivot will drop its gaze to the floor, while shooting out the camera will allow it to carry on turning but it will not see you to know where to shoot. Of course it is not always so easy as that – drones tumble through the air and are very difficult to draw a bead on if they get the drop on you.

Built in the Unity engine, the level is are semi-randomised. As best I can tell, the layout of rooms is set but the connecting doorways and some corridors, and the player start location, are randomised each game. Death comes often so this is very welcome.

Remembering what to do and when to do it is the trick to not being horribly murdered, which happens extremely often. There are 11 cassettes to collect across the map, and I have not so far survived long enough to find more than 1 – there is no save function. The soft aim, high lethality and mechanical complexity often led me to screaming such apparent obscenities as ‘cock it, COCK IT!’ and ‘why aren’t I shooting?!’

Edit: I forgot to add before publishing that this is a pretty astounding accomplishment for 7 days of development. While Receiver gets a lot not quite right, it shows some great ideas, both thematically and mechanically, that I would very much like to see in a full game. End of edit.

Receiver can be bought for PC and Mac for $5, or for free with a pre-order of Overgrowth.

Check out the intriguing story trailer:

And the gameplay trailer gives a good visual explanation for the mechanics:

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