Many kids have spent time playing “Minesweeper” on their Windows PC, but they’ve never seen the game look like this. Fans love “Minesweeper” so much, they’ve even figured out how to make it playable on Xbox One. Though “Minesweeper” hasn’t been packaged with PCs for years, the game recently re-emerged as a gritty first-person puzzle platformer.
@DevDeVice and @Krzyhau created “Mine Shaft,” an homage to “Minesweeper,” as part of the recent Ludum Dare 48 game jam event, which invites developers to create a short game over a weekend. The game jam provides game designers with a specific, voted-on theme to create their game around. At the end of the jam, players can experience and rate each game. While the Ludum Dare 48 overlords discourage derivative designs, “Mine Shaft” completely reimagines the freeware classic as an eerie adventure that is somewhat reminiscent of “Portal.”
The connection to “Portal” makes sense, considering Krzyhau’s gaming reputation. “Portal 2” fans specifically might recognize Krzyhau as the mind behind mods that, to put it simply, break the reality of the game. In one test, Krzyhau demonstrates how they picked up the test chamber while still inside it. “Mine Shaft” does not feature strange testing or a sentient AI system, but it does foster a growing sense of dread.
“Mine Shaft” reimagines the simple game of “Minesweeper” as something more complex and dark than ever before. Players begin in a bare room with helpful posters explaining how to play the game. The core idea of “Minesweeper,” that there are secret mines hidden amongst a horde of blocks, remains the same. However, instead of searching out mines for fun, players seem to be trying to escape or venture through a set of underground tunnels. Before each tunnel begins, players must walk past a phonograph. The first level has a phonograph playing music, but each progressive level shows the phonograph in a distressing state of disarray. The trailer for the game also features visions of later levels, where posters warn players not to go any further.
The third stage of “Mine Shaft” arrives with the explanation that even the developers don’t know how to complete it, which provides an extra layer of danger to players. Completing the level only leads to more madness as the background becomes more and more disorienting.
Game jams do more than produce cool games like “Mine Shaft.” They also provide an opportunity for developers that live far apart, are practicing social distancing while gaming, or just want to collaborate on a project together. After all, sometimes it only takes a few people to make amazing games.