Warp preview: Little creature, big choices

I've been closely following the development of Fez for a long time now, and was especially excited for a chance to finally play it at this year's PAX East. While I really enjoyed what I played of Fez, its boothmate was what stood out as the hidden gem of the show for me: Warp, a downloadable title from Trapdoor Inc.

The developer takes a Happy Tree Friends approach to violence -- adorable, cartoony, and ultra-bloody -- which plays out in the game via the main character's interaction with human beings. I warped the little creature you see above into a variety of different folks throughout my brief playthrough of the build on display. Occasionally stunning those I deemed innocent enough to live, or rocking the Xbox 360 analog stick back and forth to "explode" the person or object from the inside, my little creature quickly figured out how to skirt a room full of scientists and armed guards without so much as alerting another living thing.

And if I was spotted by a living thing, it was just as quickly exploded into bits. Such is Warp.%Gallery-119755% Ostensibly, Warp is an isometric puzzle slash adventure game with a story communicated through the environment and NPCs. The demo -- not a vertical slice of the actual game, but a demo built specifically for, uh, demoing purposes -- showed off some of the basic mechanics. Warping into human beings temporarily stuns them, while warping into barrels enables the little alien to either hide or, should he choose to, explode the barrel.

Sometimes this meant I was warping through a wall to sneak past a guard equipped with a shield (which I couldn't warp through) so as to get behind him, where he was vulnerable to ... warpage. Other times it meant I was navigating an area full of armed guards by jumping (read: warping) from barrel to barrel, eventually shutting off a power supply with an explosion and shutting down another impenetrable shield (thus allowing me to continue pushing forward).

These relatively bare bones mechanics lead to some wonderful little scenarios right away. Should I sneak past the scientists, or brutally murder them for their sins? Were there any sins to murder them for? Maybe I'm the evil one, and they're trying to stop me from hurting people! I was told these ambiguities pervade the full game as well, as Warp can be beaten without harming a soul. Or, of course, with dozens of brutal murders. The choice is yours.

Thankfully, the game's release date isn't as ambiguous as the plot, as I was also told that it's expected to launch sometime this summer on XBLA/PSN/PC. And after what I played, I'd suggest allowing it to Warp into your heart when it does eventually launch.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.