Quite a few international developers are at work on Facebook, but Indian companies are still relatively rare. Nevertheless several have emerged this year, one of which Arthah Games, recently released a racing game called Delhi2Leh.
Describing itself as an “avant-garde” title, Delhi2Leh has players unlocking new racing tracks as they travel from Delhi to, well, Leh. In truth, it’s a game that is a bit simplistic by current standards, and dated stylistically, but it works for what it is, with only a few bumpy spots.
The game starts out in the busy streets of Delhi in a top-down view reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto 2. The idea is to zig-zag through the streets avoiding other cars and reach the finish as fast as you can, in order to earn the highest score you can. Every time you hit something, you take damage, but even if you reach zero nothing seems to happen. That said, damage avoided is likely a score multiplier, though the game is not so clear on the subject.
Awkwardly, the car starts out on a road leading to the right, suggesting that that right arrow key is forward. Instead, up is always forward, with left and right turning the car up and down. Coupled with some very sensitive responses, it’s a control scheme that takes a little getting used to, especially for Americans who aren’t used to driving on the left side of the road. However, since there doesn’t seem to be a way to lose, it’s not all that frustrating.
Things change once you get to the next level which is more a behind the back, straight highway. Here, players use similar controls to dodge on coming traffic and pass slower drivers in an almost arcade style level. As the other four levels are unlocked they tend to flip back and forth between these two game styles. Neither really becomes very difficult, save for some more rounded turns and angled roads in the top down levels, and most just feel like more of the same.
The only true uniqueness to the levels, beyond some moderate visual changes, are a handful of fun facts about the area in which the player is racing. As an example, on the level Chandigarh Cruise, the game lets you know it was the first planned city of India.
From a social point of view, Delhi2Leh is pretty basic, sticking with mechanics from some of the first social games ever: high scores. That’s really all it comes down to: race, earn as high a score as you can, and compare yourself with the friends that play with you. Oddly, it does not appear possible to access these scores if you ever restart the game; a decision only made stranger by the fact that restarting is the only way to play again.
Obviously, this is one of the chief complaints with Delhi2Leh, but some players may also feel put off by the ancient look of the game. There’s nothing wrong with the concept, as a social racing game with a little educational value is a great idea, but the presentation feels like that of the Super Nintendo or an early 90s arcade. Compared to the level of sophistication that comes with some social games, it’s unlikely that this early attempt from an Indian developer will by much of a rival its overseas competitors.
Still, it’s fantastic to see new startups, especially international ones, delve into social gaming more. And Arthah Games is just starting out; we’ve certainly seen other high quality indie games do well even if their developers didn’t have much funding or recognition, including Monstros City, Feed the Rocker, and Trainyard. What’s important is that Indian developers, with their access to India’s vast base of technical expertise, is getting into the social gaming business; in the future, we can likely expect bigger and better attempts.