In space, no one can hear you scream. In Headlander, that’s because you have no lungs.
Headlander is an upcoming 2.5D puzzle-shooter developed by Double Fine Studios. Players control a disembodied head, recently awoken from stasis, hopping from body to body to solve puzzles and find out what has happened in the time since you’ve been unconscious.
At E3 this week, Double Fine showcased the first thirty minutes of gameplay. The demo began with the main character’s disembodied-head being awoken by the voice of a robotic, southern gentleman named Earl. You’re told that someone is looking for you and that your best course of action is to leave the ship.
Gameplay has your character’s head flying around in the style of the 1979 arcade title Lunar Lander, seemingly where Headlander borrows its name from. Your head can then attach to the bodies of electronics such as security drones, robot vacuums, dogs, and even map kiosks. Each electronic offers unique weapons or abilities needed to solve puzzles and progress. This technique is dubbed ‘Headlanding’.
The demo also shows the main character acquiring new abilities, such as the ability to suck things up while in floating-head mode. You can attach to Trans-Fiber Nodes to “‘stimulate your synaptic connections” as radiant colors and lines of code flash on-screen. Upgrade paths are gained from experience points.
Headlander also features combat via firing lasers around rooms. Shots bounce off walls and obstructions to defeat enemies as well as solve puzzle rooms. Health isn’t regained through pickups, but instead by ejecting from your current body and attaching to a new one, usually an enemy whose head you’ve just blasted off.
Headlander feels very Double Fine, not just in the quirky body-hopping gameplay, but also the dialogue and the visuals. The aesthetic is reminiscent of a blend of 70s era sci-fi with plenty of Star Trek style building design. The smooth, southern drawl of Earl’s voice acting mixes well with the cold, sassiness of Rood (pronounced ‘Rod’), the autonomous door AI aboard starship ‘Starcophagus’.
Headlander appears rich in humor, style, and unique body-swapping gameplay. Look for it this summer on PC and PS4.