Rising levels of pollution is a problem that scientists around the world are struggling to combat. Our beautiful blue marble is in deadly trouble. And now, one plucky little indie game company by the name of ShroomApps has made AirPocalypto: City of Smog, an Android game showing a grim version of our future.
The story is simple and not particularly pleasant. You play as Oxy, a boy from Tetovo. Your family all died having fallen ill from the high levels of pollution. The game itself is a standard platforming game with two game modes: “Save Your City” and “Survival Mode.”
Save Your City mode focuses on trying to stop the spread of pollution. You have to leap over piles of burning tires and duck beneath swinging blades to collect filters. At regular intervals, you ‘clean’ another factory and make it environmentally friendly. This is signified by an icon flashing up in the top corner of your screen. The game is designed not to end, signifying that the world is currently struggling with more factories and pollutants than it can handle.
Survival mode is the classic survive game type. The story is slightly darker than the Save Your City mode as smog is practically eroding your gas mask away by the minute. To survive, you must run through the ruined streets and replace your gas mask as frequently as you can. The extra danger comes in the form of random wrecking balls. Jump/duck too early or late and you arrive right in time for a wrecking ball to the face.
Interestingly, the team behind the game have come up with a new twist on the score screen. You can continue your gameplay after watching a short trailer, but that’s not the most important part. Each death gives you a small fact about pollution around the world. It’s not pretty but it does reinforce the message behind the game — pollution is killing our planet.
I contacted ShroomApps to find out some more about why they designed the game.
“Our town, Tetovo, and its citizens [have been] fighting the air pollution here [for a long time],” said ShroomApps designer, Besar Iljazi. “There have been enormous protests all [throughout] Macedonia, but the factories are strongly connected to the government. That is why we four friends from Tetovo decided that somehow the world should be warned about our situation and what we are dealing with.
“Combining our professional skills and experiences, we finally decided we have what it takes to function as a game development team and worked more than a year in our project, AirPocalypto.”
It is clear that this group of designers live on the front lines of the global air pollution problem. Tetovo, a city in the northwest of Macedonia where ShroomApps is based, is one of the world’s most polluted urban areas. It’s pollution levels reach many times greater New York City.
More To Come?
With such an ingenious way of raising awareness on pollution, we asked if the company is planning any similar games in the future.
“There will be many more games to come, both similar to AirPocalypto and unique in their own style. However, AirPocalypto is more than a game to us, it is a way of protesting and raising awareness throughout our planet. We have put [forward] our best, from skills and mindset to feelings and experiences, to create a game which gives its users the feeling of an apocalyptic world, a feeling we get on a daily basis here in Tetovo, and at the same time giving them a good gaming experience and opening their eyes against environmental pollution and its consequences.”
You can download AirPocalypto from the Google Play Store where it currently enjoys a 5-star status.