Headlander Hands-On Preview – 70s VHS Tape Come to Life
The only clue you need to get a feeling for Headlander’s aesthetic is the logo. The bold font and rainbow of colors descending outward from the bottom is all you need to get that 70s VHS tape vibe. The game itself does not let that impression down. Your head is awoken from mysterious slumber by a southern accented disembodied voice who proceeds to lead you through a dilapidated spaceship in the midst of falling apart. To progress, you’re going to need various bodies, as certain sections of the ship are only accessible by specific bodies, giving the gameplay a Metroid layout with a large map explorable only by memorization of layout, access points, and body placement.
The most generic body you will come across is that of a red suited security bot with laser pistols. These pistols come in handy as you can ricochet blasts off of the ceiling and walls, allowing you to be offensive around corners or from wide angles. Having this sort of precision is necessary, as the bodies you will take over do not regenerate health, only your head does. In order to obtain a more healthy body you are going to have to procure it from an enemy or casing lying around. Bodies not only give you the usual health meter to keep track of, but also begin to fall into disrepair, generate static, and eventually explode when they have reached their limit.
The game is full of humor as well, the best example of which is when you attach to your first body you get a quick cut video showing off its various appendages, last of which is the shiny chrome crotch. Some other smaller touches appear, such as the explanation for your lack of voice being that you don’t have lungs accopanying the disembodied head reveal, and a certain automated voice announcing, “Opening A-hole” when you pass through. The purple hued approach to color is greatly appreciated as it is a rarely utilized shade in video games, and the clean disco interior decoration of the space station also helps fill in the setting.
Double Fine pitched this concept to multiple people before Adult Swim Games accepted it, and will be publishing this alongside several other indie games sometime in 2016. The introduction area was already quite large, and as in most Metroid inspired games, was quite easy to get lost. I’m interested in seeing more, especially the different bodies you will be taking over and an explanation for the Futurama-inspired head in a jar story.