Is a game still a game if it doesn't have a player? We'll find out later this year when Playerless: One Button Adventure by indie Polish developer Moonlit arrives on PC, consoles and mobile devices.
Playerless isn't really playerless, of course, as you'll need to do your part. But the action takes place within another game, a long-abandoned arcade cabinet that was "abandoned by its creators and left running for decades." Left to their own devices for so long, the game characters "developed self-awareness and brought chaos into the digital world." In fact, they formed a sect and did so much damage that now "only one button is still functioning." A Debug Unit is available to undo the damage, but he's going to need help from a "human Navigator" if he's to succeed.
Presented in a cute, low-poly isometric art style with "intentional glitches," Playerless will take players through a variety of diverse environments, from "colorful farms to eerie mines" created for the original game, along with "meta-game levels, where all the arcade machinery is hidden," filled with "gears and bizarre, clocklike mechanisms." As the game's subtitle suggests, the "malfunctioning interface requires an unorthodox approach towards communicating with the program." Tapping or holding the lone button available represents the only way to "walk around, talk to the NPCs and solve puzzles." Among the sentient characters you'll meet along the way are the "narcissistic Gustav or idealistic artist Vatti and a bunch of rather confused Blunts, trapped in their programmed behavioral patterns."
Despite the whimsical aesthetic and humorous dialogue, Playerless promises to tackle some "important philosophical problems" such as free will and "the nature of artificial intelligence." To this end, players aren't so much controlling the protagonist as being a "nurturing" partner. As you progress, the Debug Unit will learn from your decisions and "based on those starts to develop its own personality." Consequently, the gameplay "looks more like a negotiation with the program – with results that sometimes may be quite unpredictable."
There is currently no firm release date for Playerless: One Button Adventure just yet, but the game is on track to be launched on Steam by the end of the year, with console and mobile versions planned as well.