The rules could not be any more straightforward: tap Up, Down, Left, Right in time to a simple beat. But these instructions deliver a surprisingly complicated action puzzler which has been described by Guardian writer Steven Poole as “a rhythm-action Stroop Test.”
A Stroop Test is often used in clinical investigation to measure selective attention, cognitive flexibility and processing speed by asking participants to read out colours written in different inks. Up, Down, Left, Right introduces the concept of routine which is then mixed on the fly to create a fast-paced, absorbing high-score game.
Up, Down, Left, Right challenges players to maintain a simple beat – roughly one every half second – tapping in the sequence Up, Down, Left, Right on a simple keyboard. As play progresses, blocks fall from the top of the screen at a steady pace. These blocks will change the sequence by replacing one key with another – keeping three as normal. Failure to conform to the beat immediately resets the score.
Up, Down, Left Right is games industry veteran and One Life Left co-presenter Simon Byron’s first videogame.
“I adored how Papers, Please played with the concept of routine, slightly tweaking your instructions day by day, and I loved Super Hexagon for making low scores fashionable,” says Simon Byron, developer, Up, Down, Left, Right. “So in a sense, Up, Down, Left, Right is the bastard child of both, disrupting a rote task – but doing so very quickly. Once players get the mechanic – which is pretty tricky to describe, but is worth persevering with – I’ve found that nothing becomes more important than proving your place on the Leaderboard. I’m genuinely excited about opening the contest up to all Android owners.”
Up, Down, Left, Right is now available from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.byronic.udlr for free. An iOS version will be available soon.