17 January 2012


Gaming Genres: Graphic Adventure
Graphical Styles: 2.5D, Realism, High Resolution, Punk
Platforms: Windows
Pricing Model: Free
Developer(s): TrainYard(English)
Publisher(s): TrainYard
Initial Release Date: December 10, 2011
Website(s): Homepage, IndieDB Entry, Development Blog(English)
Process - is a game project in the adventure genre; its story takes place in several subway train cars. In 20 minutes a disaster will happen - the train will jump the tracks at full speed. The gameplay takes exactly the time designated before the crash. During this period in grim dimly lit interiors, combining cyberpunk and industrial aesthetics, the player is to figure out the situation, try all possible means of rescue and in the end take a brand new look at the portrayed events. It's a game about predetermination of events and the subjectiveness of perception of the surrounding world.

Truth is, it's hard to position the project as a full-fledged game. Process is more of an interactive installation or a small graphic novel. But technologically it's a classic first person adventure, panoramic locations with the capability of free 360 view and discreet movement between the panoramas through a point-and-click interface.

The Process project is developed by TrainYard - a small team of independent game developers. Development is done remotely, in free time from main work.

Process is a completely free, short, graphical adventure with some very interesting mechanics and a unique feel. It was created by a group of independent Russian developers who call themselves TrainYard; Some of these developers having previously worked on Outcry, a graphical adventure with a similar feel.

The game tells of a catastrophic disaster, the subway train you are on jumping the tracks at full speed. Process takes place during the 24 minutes before this crash and while the ending is always the same this is the story of how you got there, the process if you will. Uniquely, the game runs in real time and as soon as you start a new game you have 24 minutes until it ends, no matter what you have accomplished. You will not accomplish everything your first time through. While it is a short game it does have some deviously ambiguous puzzles and even if you know what you are doing you do not have all that much time to accomplish it. But if you do accomplish everything in record time, the real time aspect is fudged a little allowing the game to end potentially sooner then 24 minutes.

This story is told very minimalistically with absolutely no explanation or narration and really no words at all, even inside of the game world. Often you are solving puzzles and activating switches without even having an idea of what you are doing or what you are even effecting in-game.What the game does focus on is pure atmosphere, and it does this spectacularly. The silence speaks volumes and the atmosphere permeates the entire train. It is a main part of what makes the game so terrific. The game takes minimal explanation to an extreme, let alone the story being completely impenetrable there is one puzzle in particular that is incredibly hard to figure out. In fact just figuring out that you are trying to solve a puzzle, what the display is, and what the inputs are can require both intuition and a lot of experimentation.

Process has a fantastic minimalistic soundtrack, with gloomy atmospheric tracks that are a mix of ambient sounds and traditional music.The graphics and interface are similarly impressive; With a full, first person, 3D view and node based movement. The point and click interface is minimalistic and very usable, with a standard interactive cursor and inventory system. But the impressive part of the presentation is definitely the graphics. They are high definition, grungy, dark (with fantastic lighting effects), and with hints of steampunk.

The puzzles are a mixture of ordinary inventory and ambiguous logic. These logic puzzles are all about figuring out how they operate, what the inputs are and what they do. But it is not just the puzzle workings that are ambiguous but also their purpose. In all instances, you are unlikely to know what you doing or even what you are affecting in-game.

Process is a game heavy on atmosphere. If you like atmospheric games and the simple joy of exploring a unique world then this is a game for you; The second I booted it up I knew I had something special. Experimenting with the puzzles and finally reaching something new is just very satisfying and enjoyable. Throughout this whole experience there have been two words that really seemed to resonate with this game; Two words that I think are, in their own way, better at describing this game then entire other paragraphs of words and they are: weird and awesome.

With a game that explains so little, there is a lot of room for explanations and a walkthrough to even be able to figure out when you are done. unfortunately, none of these existed before this article, at least in English. Fortunately for me, being as I am not all that great at working without either of these, most of the game is completely readable as code and still images in the installation folder. The following paragraph is the summery of my analysis of these files and the game in general; I suggest you skip it until you have finished playing the game (It will not even make sense without experience playing the game).

There are more then a few things that you do in the game without any clue of what you are doing and while I cannot shed light on all of these there are a few main ones that I have been able to figure out. Opening the door to the back of the train, for one, requires two actions, both of which making little sense without any explanation. It turns out that, you are actually trying to direct steam towards the back door to unlock it. Latter, in this back compartment, you must solve another puzzle involving three columns of lights; Most people will not even figure out what accomplishing this unlocks. It allows the emergency braking system to be turned on, and what you are doing is balancing the brake pressure. Another, thing I can tell you is that there are two ending cinematics. The normal one, and then a different one for when you have accomplished everything there is to accomplish, aka you have rebooted the train.

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Indieness: Quintessentially Indie
Play?: Must Play

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