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pax 2015

Double Fine’s Headlander Will Make You Fall In Love With '70s Sci-Fi

by Ben Reeves on Aug 30, 2015 at 02:44 PM

Traditional 70s sci-fi tends to turn me off, but Double Fine’s charming new sidescrolling shooter makes me wonder if I’ve been missing out on something special this whole time. During a demo at PAX, I got a good look and this inventive project and I almost lost my head…well not really, but the game does look cool.

Headlander is a unique 2D sidescrolling shooter that takes place in a false utopia modeled after 70s pop sci-fi. In this world, everyone's consciousness has been transferred into robot bodies, and you play the last organic being in the universe. The catch is, you’re only a head.

During the game, you can fly around as a head and use a built in vacuum pack to suck off other people’s heads before plopping your noggin down on their body. Every body features its own animations and features and you can even attach yourself to stationary computers or even dog bodies.

As you progress deeper into this “utopia” you encounter more and more advanced security measures and a series of robots with various new weapons, such as arm-mounted cannons that fire multiple lasers. Of course, you can pop onto these bodies and use these toys yourself. Lasers even bonce off walls, so part of the challenge of the game is lining up billiards-like shots from behind cover in order to knock enemy’s heads off their torsos. However, you can’t heal your bodies after they take damage, so this encourages you to constantly swap heads with other enemies.

Different robots have different security clearances, so your ultimate goal is to find a robot body with high enough clearance to gain access to the city’s center. However, some puzzles force you to take off your head and explore nearby vents. Thankfully, you’ll also earn power ups for your head, such as a directional shield that you can use to deflect energy blasts back at your attackers.

Headlander was originally dreamed up during one of Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight game jams, but Adult Swim has since fallen in love with the title and is helping bring it to PC, Mac, and unannounced consoles sometime in early 2016.