Scale, a new first-person puzzle game created by developer Steve Swink, features a young girl armed with a potent power: the ability to scale anything up or down almost infinitely. Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, Scale looks a lot like a Portal-alike, with its female protagonist and sci-fi Game Mechanic gun, but it’s a comparison that Swink categorically rejects.
“Yeah, we’re busy redesigning to the gun to be less Portal-like as I speak," he tells PC Gamer. "It got chucked in there quickly before PAX. It’s the obvious comparison to make, totally understandable, but the game is about exploring and discovery… rather than a linear series of puzzles that show how much I’ve explored the mechanic and how clever I am as a designer.”
Set around 40 years in the future, Scale follows the protagonist, Penny, a brilliant young physicist. While working to study elementary particles, Penny loses patience with the hit-or-miss world of supercolliders and settles on a different plan: a device that can enlarge anything so she can just zap an electron, make it as big as a minivan, and take a look. Naturally, she destroys the entire east coast of the United States.
Though Penny has a story she’s following, the exploration and puzzles are self-directed. In a gameplay video, Swink shows one where the player needs to cross some water to an island. Penny hops on a landlocked sailboat and then enlarges the moon, causing the seas to rise. I ask him how else it could be done. Penny could also stand on a flower and scale it until she just steps onto the other island, or just scale the boat itself until it’s big enough to be a bridge.
It seems that every new game with an experimental mechanic has to follow the Portal formula, so it’s nice to see a game with the ambition to set players free. Scale has a few days left on Kickstarter before it continues development for a planned December 2014 release.