Ambient Studios is a team packed full of talent, with developers from Little Big Planet, Fable, Crysis 3, Battlefield 2, SimCity, along with many other games. They formed the studio so that they could make their games the way they wanted to—and the first game they plan to deliver is Death Inc. The game plays similarly to Pikmin and Katamari. Playing as a grim reaper, you are tasked with spreading the bubonic plague throughout the world. The game covers strategy, puzzle, god, and business simulation genres as you try to become the most successful grim reaper of all time.
Using intuitive touch controls, you can ‘paint’ the ground with the Grim Reaper and direct your infected troops towards the healthy humans. Because the game takes note of the direction you swipe, the infected won’t go backwards on the path, and you can also use the mechanic to force them to run in circles. That last mechanic is especially handy when opening and closing gates. As with Pikmin, the more people you have on your side, the easier the game will be. Having more people allows you to open levers more quickly and have a higher likelihood of capturing and converting a healthy human. The goal of the levels is to get as many infected people as possible, avoiding outright killing them—which is quite possible, since they all seem to be allergic to water.
There are levers to pull, enemies to avoid, and battles to fight. As the grim reaper, you have to expand your territory in the underworld to cope with international success. The video preview doesn’t say if there is more than one grim reaper or if you are the only reaper in existence, enjoying a heyday, but either way that business aspect sounds fun. For whatever reason, your office furniture actually gives you abilities in the over world to utilize.
The presentation of the game is fantastic, and it’s reminiscent of Wind Waker with its bright colors and simplicity. The development team made a good choice in giving this dark game a bright atmosphere…with the added bonus that the bubonic plague actually spreads happiness to the unhappy citizens of the living world. There are still plenty of elements that are planned, such as plague rats, infected pigeons, food poisoning, and exploding livestock. They intend to add many more puzzles and enemies into the game, and with time, Ambient Studios might be able to make it into a complex Pikmin-style game.
If their track record is anything to go by, Ambient Studios is more than capable of making a high-quality game on their current budget. They already have a working game engine and mechanics figured out, although they only have a few polished levels finished. Hopefully they will add more features than they currently have so that their game can compete with larger, mainstream titles. Their Kickstarter campaign will allow them to continue making the game and put out something that fits well between Katamari Damacy and Pikmin. If you are interested in supporting their game, be sure to visit their Kickstarter campaign page and support them!