I know this column was supposed to be about a dungeon designer game, but then this idea came to me in a … well, you know.
As the Flash, you’re in speed force mode. So everyone and everything else is almost stationary. While you’re in this mode, you can select places to go and actions to do and the Flash will do them. Like detective mode in Arkham games, you can choose to leave this mode on all the time, if you want to watch everything play out in slow motion. Or you can turn it off and let events happen at normal speed, until you need the speed force again.
This is similar to VATS in Fallout 3, or Turn() in Transistor, except that in those games the action is fully paused while you plan your actions. Here, all the action continues, very slowly, while you plan. That car is still heading towards that pedestrian, and if you just sit there and do nothing for long enough, the impact will happen. (How long is long enough? Long. I’m thinking a time dilation factor of at least 100.)
Is the Flash invulnerable? No, this is not just a game about saving a city - only mostly about that. If you decide it’s a good idea to stand in Captain Cold’s freeze blast instead of zipping around him and selecting Attack > Disarm, you will get hurt and could die. (Side note: I love the CW Flash show and Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold to death but if they have someone who can run faster than people can think stymied by a man whose only immediate threat is a really potent squirt gun ONE MORE TIME i swear to grodd)
I also want to incorporate the generality of Flash’s super speed. Let’s say the dam is collapsing. Not only do you have to evacuate some people, but if you don’t want Central City to be underwater, you need to build a new (temporary) dam. So you go to the library, and the game will present several contextual and/or plot-relevant options, e.g.:
- Learn about STAR Labs
- Learn about Ferris Air
- Learn about how to construct dams
- Read comic books
Once you select the dam option, you get a little animation of Flash darting about the library, reading every relevant engineering book and technical manual in the place. Meanwhile, you can see the concrete breaking and the water splashing, v e r y s l o w l y. Then you can go over to the dam and select Build > Replacement Dam.
Who is Flash fighting? What’s the story of this game? One of the wonderful things about Flash is there’s no shortage of villains to draw from. A Trickster/Grodd teamup sounds good. They’re both masterminds, and this way there’s plenty of robot minions to kill and “find the bombs before they destroy the city” challenges. And you will fight Grodd and the Trickster (probably in a mech suit courtesy of Lexcorp) simultaneously at the end. Also, if you get too close to Grodd in non-speed-mode, your movement controls go all wonky (unless you have a psychic defense headband or some such thing).
I’m still not quite sure what the visual style of the game should be. At first I was thinking isometric, like Transistor. That would probably be fine, but would restrict Flash’s freedom of movement quite a bit. Maybe something more like a 2.5D Zelda game (disclosure: I have been playing A Link Between Worlds recently), except I also want you to be able to rotate the camera. Crucially, I also want most or all of the city map to be visible at any one time. In that respect, this game might work very well as a 3DS game, with the full city map, and any incipient disasters, always visible in slow motion on the bottom screen, while a more zoomed in view occupies the main screen. I’m sure some equivalent setup is possible on PC as well.
Lastly, I want to talk about character creation. This may seem like a strange thing to even bring up. The character is the Flash, of course. But I want to dip into DC comics’ propensity for alternate worlds to allow the player to select race, gender (including trans/nonbinary/none), and body type. Most of the game the Flash is going to be a red and yellow blur anyway. But you’ll know - this is your Flash out there saving the day.
NEXT TIME: Deathtrap Designer, for real.