Sp.A.I. is a game about hacking. But not real hacking in the “pitstains and Mountain Dew at 2am” way, but in the “‘90s Lawnmower Man Surfing the Cybernets” kind of way. You play as an AI, dressed in the mandatory neon-blue spandex, moving your way through a computer’s security system by bypassing firewalls, decrypting passwords and avoiding security sentries.
The gameplay represents these abstract concepts through low-key techno music, neon colors everywhere and a wonderfully weird but sensible level architecture. As you progress through the levels, you bypass moving fields of lasers, run away from security drones, solve block puzzles involving laser gates, and decrypt files by traversing a semi-solid jumping puzzle.
The simplicity of the controls makes all this diverse puzzling make more sense than it sounds. You control everything, including your gun, with just one button. Any one, given task will make intuitive sense, while a refreshing tutorial system using Dead Space style, “in the world” text really brings it all together.
The aesthetic sense of this game is just a treat. It’s an updated take on the traditional Tron styling, with neon circuits printed on every surface. But the real appeal here largely comes from the level design. You get a sense of these weird, little, interlocking spaces with motion seeping out of every corner. It’s a very well done take on the “cyberspace as a literal space” idea.
Why You Should Check This Out: Sp.A.I. takes the late ‘80s notion of cyberspace and brings you in as a hacker trying to bypass computer security. Several types of inventive puzzles all flow into each other to create a very cohesive experience with many different playstyles. The level design and art direction do the whole neon-circuit thing to a tee—the levels really give a sense of a weird, connected and constantly moving world. It’s a beautiful, highly polished, experimental, genre-blending game. But ultimately, it’s just fun.