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Inception-Poster

We have to go.... deeper.

Has your mind been fucked today? Because it’s about to, since the game we’re talking about today is Inside a Star Filled Sky. To quote the game’s promo: You take a hard, tactical shump, then add over 100,000 unique bullet combinations. Then get knocked inside yourself. Then enter a power up. Then enter another power up. Then enter an enemy. Then enter yourself. Wait… Where are you now? Inside yourself inside an enemy inside a power up inside a power up inside yourself. Wait, what?

Yes, this game is a procedurally generated infinitely recursive mind fuck. At it’s base, you’ve got a pretty simple 8 bit adventure/shooter game. You start out on level zero, where you can walk around, pick up a few power ups, maybe kill something, and you’ll find an exit. Now you’re on level 1. And that level that you just played? Yeah that’s you now. And those power ups you just picked up have taken effect. So you walk around, pick up a few power ups, find the exit, and holy shit that level is you again!

While Inside a Star Filled Sky is mostly procedurally generated, the levels you enter may have been played by other players before you – and you may find evidence scattered around the game world. Around the various levels are places that you can plant your flag; some are temporary, some are permanent, but regardless, someone somewhere will know that you were there. And if that player is me, I’ll trace the IP address linked to that flag, follow you home, maybe bring a pretty flower, and let you know that I’ve algorithmically calculated our chances of romantic success.*

Ahem. This game is big. Like, really big. You’ll reach the relative scale of the known universe after level 14. How exactly that number is calculated is beyond me, but they said it on the Internet so it must be true. There are also “165,000 basic weapon combinations” which pretty much just means, yeah you can take a ton of power levels of 10-ish power ups and multiply that number to get a really big number.**  That point aside, this game is pretty much infinite. I say pretty much, because a 32-bit integer will run out around 2,147,483,647 levels… and if you’ve played for that long, civilization as we know it will likely have ceased to exist and you should really go outside.

At a certain point, you will likely reach an enemy that you can not defeat. You have a couple of options. First, you can go inside yourself to grab some different power ups. Or you can go inside an enemy to change his power ups. Or you can go inside a power up to pick up more power ups and make it a super power up. Or you can go inside a power up inside yourself inside another power up inside a third power up inside an enemy and trip on acid while talking about how your hands are pretty much made of music. Hell, that’s pretty much what playing this game is all about.

The game itself can get stale fairly quickly. The enemies and gameplay do not change much as you progress, and the core of the game is pretty simple. Regardless, it is a very neat concept, and if you’re a programmer who deals with recursive algorithms regularly, you’ll get some good lulz out of the experience. Inside a Star Filled Sky costs only $8 on Steam right now, and it’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t played it yet.

* That pick up line works every time.
** Thank you game developers, we realize that multiplying a big number by a few other big numbers gives us a really big number. You can stop using that as a selling point for your game.

7 replies to this post
  1. WHOAAAAAAAA. My mind is fucking blown. Played it at my friends house… And holy shit what THE FUCK IS GOING ON???
    Mind fuck indeed.

  2. The coolest thing about the game, to me, is how it manages to work despite lacking a victory condition. You have the goal of pushing higher and higher, and the difficulty arc requires you to go deeper and deeper into the details of the higher levels to have any hope of pushing up again. Incremental progress will never stop being possible.

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