Game Design From Outer Space

The game 140 makes you try the musician’s deviation, rehearsal with no limits to reach perfection.

140's logo

140 and the Musician’s Deviation

Talking about music (and anything else), I was not a child prodigy. I had my dose of guitar lessons when I was six but I wasn’t really into it at that time. I started take an interest in music way after, at the age of fifteen or so, at high-school. I started playing bass with a couple of friends in a punk-rock/alternative/childish band. A year after I went to a music school, I wanted to improve my skills. I loved playing (still do) and I love to get as good as I can. I spent ten years in that school, practicing every day for hours. My music culture is deeply linked to that phase of my life, my teacher gave me music scores of Jaco Pastorius, Motown Records (James Jamerson in particular) and so on.

Anyway, some weeks ago I finally decided to try 140, the Excellence in Audio winner at the Independent Games Festival 2013, and I totally loved it. It seemed to me to go back to that time in which I would spend hours on a music score, trying to reach the perfect timing on the beat, making hundreds of times the same mistake. I found it addictive and satisfying just like studying a new song. When I reached the last level of 140, I was able to play the first one watching my fingers only (well maybe not the entire level but I must admit I gave it a try or two). I think 140 is designed with that kind of feeling in mind, the fact that there’s a permadeath version of the three levels at the end suggested me my impression maybe real. It told me something like – Ok, now that you read the whole score try to play it with no mistakes. And that’s the workflow every music student follows.

If 140 were a song to study it would be one of those hard up-mid-tempo I sweated on so many times, that kind of song that drove me crazy the whole week to reach an almost decent performance in front of my teacher. The art style may result a bit crude and is for sure one of the major game’s weak points even for who’s into minimal graphics; from a design point of view, though, it’s outstanding. The difficulty curve rises perfectly parallel to your skill keeping you in the flow all the time. Not to talk about how it innovates in a simply and still genius way a genre nobody seemed capable, in these last years, to evolve: the rhythm games. Finally you can play a video game that requires you to push buttons on the beat avoiding a (often very similar) representation of the notes you should play.

If you play any music instrument I think you know what I mean, and if you don’t you get the chance to understand what kind of deviation, addiction and satisfaction make musicians all around the world suffer and struggle on music scores, 140 works better than any rock ‘n’ roll career simulator in this, it gives you the true experience of the music learning process, with its joys and frustrations, even if you’ve never entered the pentagram world. You can buy it on the official website or on Steam, and I suggest you to do so!