Smart Kobold

The ever-formidable Jeff Lait has just released a new game, Smart Kobold. So of course I had to try it!

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Jeff, a mathematician/programmer wiz by day, spends some of his free time programming strange “roguelikes” inspired by ancient ASCII games like NetHack. Jeff is perhaps most famous for POWDER, but he’s also created several experimental “seven-day” roguelikes. His last two such projects, Fatherhood (which was presented at IndieCade 2008) and Jacob’s Matrix, are two of my all-time favorite indie games.

So how about Smart Kobold? The game is cute, and fun! It’s a little less “heavy” than his last two seven-day roguelikes. Still, as with many of his games, there’s a twist for the player to uncover. I won’t spoil it here.

Aside from the game itself, Jeff uses some cool tricks to make the game more accessible than its old-school ancestors. In addition to the subtle color-coding of the labyrinth rooms, the new in-window speech bubbles (“Keep out!”) give more life and immediacy to the world. After all, does anyone really read the scrolling the text of traditional rogue-likes?

I’ll also note that Jeff helped us design Fuck You, It’s Art! at IndieCade 2009. Here’s hoping I run into him again this year!

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