Game jams- the events where dev teams get a very short amount of time to produce a game from scratch- are an absolute gold mine of creative ideas. The compuslory lack of time investment is the perfect excuse for developers to explore whatever “wouldn’t it be cool if…” ideas they’ve had, without having to worry about ending up with a marketable product or fully realised game. The end result, then, is often more of a toy than a game; a single gameplay idea in a sandbox that doesn’t really have any aspirations beyond ‘look at this cool thing!’.
Receiver is a product of the 7-day FPS challenge, whose ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ seed was the concept of realistic gun management. Each part of the gun must be handled manually, from switching the safety off to pulling out the magazine and replenishing the bullets within. It’s incredibly clunky at first, as you uselessly mash keys in the wrong order trying to fumble another shot out of the gun only to realise you left the safety on, but as muscle memory kicks in the process gets more fluid and you start to feel- dare I say it- pretty cool.
Beyond that, however, there’s really nothing going on. You start in a random location with a random gun and a random number of bullets (sometimes as few as one) and are tasked with evading the randomly-placed enemy sentry guns and drones, while locating the randomly placed tapes containing the games story. There’s 11 of these tapes, and you have to get all of them in a single life- which, considering you die from a single hit, is an arduous task.
Fin or Bin:
The concept is one that was worth exploring, and would fit really well in a more fleshed out game- the horror genre would especially benefit from the sudden tension of realising you forgot to chamber a bullet, and the frantic scrabble to reload before you get nobbled by a zombie. Taken by itself though, Receiver doesn’t have much to offer beyond a genuine “you’re right, that was cool”; I don’t feel any need to play it again. It’s a Bin, but a good-natured Bin.