Sign Motion

Sign Motion is a platform adventure game described by its creator as, “The story of the kid from the school crossing sign.” The game opens with the scene of an accident. It seems as though something (maybe a car) has bumped into a school crossing sign, causing the little stick figure to fall out of the sign. We take control of the young stick figure and guide him through a world of road signs.

The concept and artwork in Sign Motion is quite simple, fitting for a one-person studio, and the virtual world we find ourselves in is fairly bare. There are a large number of open spaces where we just run across the screen, left to right. I suspect these open spaces are there in part to pad the game a little and, in part, to give the world a sense of scale. Small children in large, dark worlds is a popular theme for games these days and that tone is very much alive in Sign Motion.

As we move through the game we jump gaps, solve a few puzzles and interact with road signs. This last feature is what really captured my attention and kept me playing. Along the way we encounter various types of road signs. Signs with cars, signs warning against falling rocks, signs with people at work in them, signs warning against acid touching the skin. Some of these signs are decorative and some are interactive. For example, there are signs with ropes dangling from them (I think they’re “no fishing” signs) and we can swing from these ropes. There are signs with falling rocks where rocks actually fall out of the signs and we need to jump out of the way. Signs with dripping acid can burn us.

What disturbed me a little is often the signs with people in them are animated and we can see people wave or knock against the sides of their signs. At first this seemed a cute bit of background animation to break up the landscape, but over time I found the animated people, waving and knocking against the borders of their signs creeped me out a little. People, for ever locked inside a tiny sign-cage, urging me on, the one free member of their society…. It may sound silly, but the imagery pulled on my heart strings a little.

Sign Motion takes a little while to get up to speed. The first few minutes are fairly uneventful and I am concerned some people may lose interest before we get to the good bits. After a while the game picks up, adds some new challenges, the artwork gets more interesting and we are given the occasional puzzle to solve. Another thing I noticed is the game’s controls feel a little stiff, but the action is paced in such a way that the game feels balanced.

All in all, Sign Motion is an interesting concept, a neat spin on the classic platform/puzzle game. It does take a few levels for the game to warm up and start throwing challenges at us, but I feel over all the game is fun and it held my interest. For people unsure whether they want to dive into Sign Motion or not, there is a free demo available on Steam.

Game: Sign Motion
Developers: Midnart
Platforms: Linux, OS X, Windows
License: Unknown
Genre: Platform, Puzzle, Retro

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