Fermi’s Path surfs the subatomic.
Engineered by GameArt Studio, Fermi’s Path follows a subatomic particle hurtling through its tiny universe on a musical path. The game is currently in closed beta, and while this current version doesn’t include every single bit of what the full game will have to offer, it has more than enough protons and neurons spinning around its nucleus to give us some material to talk about. You will need a functioning microscope, and a good pair of headphones. Lets do some groovy science.
Fermi’s Path is really quite simple at it’s core; the game is a music-based runner that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s played Audiosurf. Players control Fermi, a subatomic particle hurtling through the universe collecting rings and dodging obstacles. Fermi faces many paths full of challenge, all of them built to the beat of the game’s soundtrack. There’s no option to upload your own mp3s or anything of the like, but the game’s soundtrack is sufficient to carry players along.
Fermi’s Path is divided into a whole collection of levels, each with its own looping musical piece. Fermi can jump, and shoot a little blast of atomic energy, with both having various implications depending on what lies ahead on the track. Obstacles can lie either directly in front of Fermi or just above the little guy’s microscopic head, the latter meaning jumping may not be the best idea. Enemy particles may lie in wait, shooting their own projectiles at you and just begging to be shot down themselves. Jump boosts, power-ups and portals are scattered across levels,a ll dictated by the precision of following the game’s rhythm.
What makes all of this really challenging is the game’s rotation-based movement mechanic. Fermi is riding a bioelectrical strand of some sort or another, allowing incremental rotation around it. Fermi moves in 90-degree turns, and always to the beat, meaning players will have to keep an ear open and an eye out for obstacles. Fermi’s Path pulls no punches in terms of challenge, as things can get dizzyingly tricky pretty quickly.
Each level has a score to keep track of, all dependant on how many little gold rings you manage to collect. The game will often throw multiple valid ways to move through a section of the track, so there can be some variation in how many you collect. Some rings will require jumps, other a precise full or partial rotation around the tack. There are three tiers of trophy to win for each level, each showing a further level of ring-collecting prowess.
The game also has a ring-shaped health meter, which can be filled up by acquiring certain power-ups and collecting enough rings in a row. This way, players have a few freebies when it comes to smashing themselves square into obstacles or getting shot at by enemy particles, before finally facing obliteration. When players do die (and they will), they will have to restart the level from the beginning.
The last important thing to know about Fermi’s Path is that, in its closed beta status, it still needs a bit of work. In most levels I played, the actual movement of the level felt very slightly out-of-sync from the music I was hearing. While this is something I expect will be tweaked and corrected in the final game, it makes some of the level design a bit harder to assess at this stage, when I’m splitting my attention between playing the game and keeping myself a tiny measure ahead of the music.
Also worth remembering is that the full game is planned to have a variety of features implemented that are not yet available. These features will include an infinite runner mode, leaderboards on Steam, an intriguing level editor function, even more levels than the beta currently has, and Steam achievements, trading cards, and workshop functionality.
As it currently stands, Fermi’s Path has the potential to pull in those affectionately familiar with the rhythm game genre, especially with titles like Audiosurf, but may be a bit tricky and technical for those new to the genre. Fermi’s Path is set to launch later in April. For now, you can check out Steam, Facebook, Twitter, and the official website for more on this EDM adventure in subatomic space.