GAMES ARE ART
In Frost, you’re the creative director
A Dream Odyssey
Denis and Davor Mikan want you to embrace chaos and creativity in their extraordinary new creation, Frost. It’s a beautiful freeform puzzle game in which you guide swarms of particles to their destination in increasingly inventive ways.
Experimenting with how these algorithm-powered beings move and interact is a pleasure in itself. The idea is that you’ll naturally land upon the solution to each stage by just playing around, says one half of developer Kunabi Brother, Denis Mikan. His advice is to “try things out, watch what happens and be creative”.
Frost feels so loose and organic. It’s no surprise to discover that Davor Mikan, the main creative force behind the game, has little time for games where every challenge has one set solution. “The goal shouldn’t be for the player to find smart things that I came up with,” he tells us. “But for players to explore the system and surprise themselves. It’s about providing space – I just structure the experience and provide some guidance.”
Though it’s so alive – there can be tens of thousands of moving particles on the screen – playing Frost is a strangely calming experience. The audio could have been pinched straight from a mindfulness or meditation app, and the way the little neon particles glide across the void is so alluring you could mistake Frost for an interactive art installation.
The algorithm powering these swarms is ingenious, and really brings the game to life. To begin with, the particles simply follow your finger strokes in a really pleasing, tactile way. But later, you play more like a shepherd with a flock of sheep – you’re providing the paths for the swarms to flow along, adjusting as you go. Particles even have little personalities, repelling, attracting or absorbing others. These new particle types are introduced gradually, so that you’re regularly given strange new toys to play with.
And the idea of play is important for both Mikan brothers. They consider Frost to be a plaything as much as it is a game. “I want to achieve wide inclusivity,” says Davor. “I try to see it through other people's eyes, through eyes of people I know: friends, kids, parents, grandparents…”
That philosophy is working, judging by a multitude of playtesting anecdotes the brothers recounted to us. Davor had to prise an iPad from the hands of one friend who, before playing Frost, had considered games a complete waste of time. “For her it was, I hope, an experience of overcoming prejudice and thereby gaining access to a new medium,” he recalls. “And for me it was a joy to witness.”
Frost has the potential to seduce the world in the same way. If you’re looking for a shining example of how beautiful, playful, satisfying and creative video games can be, look no further.