You are Bobby Baker; a run of the mill redneck, who is abducted by aliens while fishing. You are brought aboard their ship and transformed into a cellulose blob, a blob which happens to have the ability of genetic appropriation. You can read a copy the genetic encoding from the dead bodies of other organisms. The aliens drop you into their testing facility; an expansive area split into several artificial environments reminiscent of earth environments (Forrest, Jungle, Dessert, etc.). Here you must compete for survival amongst the other life forms roaming these artificial environments, while finding a way to escape, and reclaim your body.
Genetic would be the selling point of this idea. All organisms in the game share the same genetic code, which genes are “turned on” are what differentiate all the different organisms. This is of course very loosely based upon actual genetics. When you kill or stumble upon the body of another organism you are presented with the opportunity to “scan” it. This would unlock a portion of the organism’s genetic sequencing. This would be a progressive process. In other words, you would have to scan bodies of the same species of organism multiple times in order to completely unlock all of its genetic sequencing, which would allow you to assume the organism’s form. However, unlocking portions of an organism would allow you to “equip” some of its traits.
Example of genetic sequence unlocking for a rhino like creature:
1 scan – unlocks “tough hide” sequence; giving character added defense
5 scans – unlocks “rhino horn” sequence; giving the character a new attack (rhino charge)
8 scans – unlocks “large mammal body” sequence, allowing your character to take-on the body of a large mammal
15 scans – unlocks “Rhino” sequence; allowing your character to assume the form of a complete rhino This is an arbitrary example. In practice more useful genetic sequences should need more scans. Genetic Gameplay
Genetic sequences would be sorted into categories such as jaws, sensory, skin, body, appendages, a couple misc, and a form category for taking on the full form of another organism. During the course of the game it would be necessary to acquire combinations of genetic sequencing which would allow your character to best cope with the environment. For an example, let’s say, you find yourself in an arctic like environment; the extreme cold would constantly drain your character’s health, so you would need to find a skin such as “heavy fur” in order to negate the effect. Another example might be that you need to traverse a dark cave in order to reach the next environment, so you might acquire an “echolocation” sensory code to navigate the cave. I find this to be a pretty interesting example personally, because of the game-play mechanics it could reveal. Perhaps while you have echo location equipped the entire screen is rendered blurry, but with the tap of a button you could emit a “chirp” button which would sharpen the image and highlight the edges of objects with a glow. The sharpening effect would allow you to keep the echo location equipped in light areas, to save on some “sequencing” management, while the glow would reveal the true usefulness of the sequence, navigating through lightless environments. The skin category could provide some interesting effects. Let’s say have your original blob body equipped, but augment it with the rhino hide skin from earlier in this article. You would have a rhino skinned blob, an interesting visual if nothing else. At first you would be relegated to the role of scavenger having to find the bodies of organisms to scan until you can build up enough “genetic inventory” to compete with other organisms directly.
The wildlife in Alieogenesis would resemble familiar earth species, but with some alien tampering. There would be a large sampling of species across the various categories of animal life, mammals, birds, fish, insects, reptiles (including dinosaurs). Some of the more generic genetic sequences would be shared among certain species, in order to eliminate redundancy. For instance, a lion, a wolf, and a tiger all have medium-sized mammal bodies, so there is no real need for a lion body, a wolf body, and so on. However, the form of the body should augment based upon other equipped genetics, if you have a medium-sized mammal body equipped along with “bear claw” appendages then your body would resemble that of a bear, but if you have the same body mixed with “clawed sprinter” appendages then the body would be more like that of a large cat. Certain genetic sequences could not be mixed, such as an insect body wouldn’t mix with rhino horn.
Here are some examples of more interesting genetic sequences I could think of.
Bodies Insect – A tiny body good for navigating areas too small for other bodies
Fish (large/medium/small) – A body providing the ability to navigate underwater for extended periods of time. Large provides more strength at the cost of speed, and small the vice-versa
Quadruped Mammal (Giant/large/medium/small) – Giant bodies provides enormous strength and vitality with very little speed and agility, while a small body provides plenty of speed with very little vitality and strength.
Biped Mammal (Monkey/Chimp/Ape) – Monkey provides incredible agility, with little strength and vitality, ape provides plenty of strength and vitality with little agility, with chimp falling somewhere in-between. Most importantly the biped mammal body types would allow the equipment of an “Opposable Thumb” appendage.
Camo Fur – Gained from mammal predators. Camo Fur would provide the “stalk” ability making your character harder to spot, and a subsequent “pounce” ability; which inflicts large amounts of damage on unsuspecting prey.
Spiked Hide – Gained from certain dinosaurs. Spiked hide provides an extremely high defense.
Chameleon Skin – The pentacle of camouflage; provides the “blend” ability; rendering your character virtually invisible to other organisms (except those equipped with heat sensor sensory)
Sensory Hawk Eyes – Gained from certain birds; provides the “zoom” ability. Heat Sensor – Gained from certain reptiles (snakes); provides the ability to detect hidden organisms. Perhaps via a heat-vision like screen overlay. Super Snout – Gained from wolves; provides the ability to track organism movements. Perhaps via wispy particle trails rendered on screen, different colors signifying different types organisms. Helping the player to track down animals with genetic sequences they need.
Tentacles – Gained from octopi/squid; provides an “ensnare” attack, which immobilizes opponents of equal or smaller size then the player’s current body Wings – Gained from birds; provides the ability to fly.
Jaws Carnivorous Mammal – Gained from wolves, cats, bears, etc.; provides the “jugular clamp” ability. Allowing the character to quickly bring down animals of equal size of the character’s current body quickly; assuming the player is able to perform the technique (should be a challenge, perhaps timing-based, or quick-time event) Conclusion
It is pretty obvious this idea is birthed from Evo Search for Eden (if you’ve never played, this is an awesome game for SNES). It’s surprising that this concept hasn’t been explored more in games. Perhaps, I’ll develop the idea further at a later date.