Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of the massively successful independent game Minecraft has a long-awaited follow up to his groundbreaking open world game. Unfortunately for fans, his new "game," Cliffhorse, is deliberately an unplayable mess.
The game allows you to play as the titular cliff horse, as you run around a mountain environment pushing a ball. Your horse can run up and down vertical cliff walls. There are no sound effects, no goals, and no ending. You can run right off the terrain into the sky, so I guess that counts as an ending?
Notch has always been an outspoken critic of trends he deems destructive in gaming, and Cliffhorse is an oblique dig at indie developers who release games before they're complete. It seems especially targeted at Steam's Early Access program. For those of you who aren't gamers, Steam is like the iTunes of video games, and its Early Access program allows users to buy games that are still being developed and offer input on them as they are ushered to completion. The problem is that many of these never end up being completed, to the point where Steam disclaims that some games may never be finished. On the download page for Cliffhorse, Notch even touts the game as 'being early access,' while warning that there is "No guarantee of future updates."
So if you were anxiously awaiting an exciting, immersive experience like Minecraft, you'll be disappointed. But it's free (he accepts Dogecoin donations), and it's fun to play for about five minutes. And it does actually make a good point. Indie games have broadened and deepened the scope of topics and ideas and even gameplay in modern video games. But as with everything that can be puked onto the internet, there's very little quality control. Or so Notch hopes to prove with Cliffhorse.