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CounterSpy merges mythologies of the Cold War with espionage platforming

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Dynamighty's Cold War game of espionage

Dynamighty's debut title, CounterSpy, is a platforming game inspired by the bizarre mythologies of the Cold War, the art of Saul Bass and the aesthetic of the espionage genre from the 1960s, according to developer David Nottingham.

In a demo of the Cold War-era action espionage game, Nottingham showed Polygon an early build of CounterSpy where the player — working as a member of a politically-agnostic, non-government agency — has to enter a missile facility and sabotage the efforts of a hostile faction to stop it from launching explosive rockets. Each level has a countdown to the rockets launching, so players have disarm them as quickly as possible. But first, they have to navigate their way through the facility, performing stealthy take-downs and leaping into action through shoot-outs.

The demo Polygon saw featured subtle tilting of the camera, which was used to cue the player so they would know if they were approaching a hostile situation. While the game is mostly a 2D platformer, when the camera tilts, players get to see the Saul Bass-inspired art from a different angle, which also makes it easier to shoot at enemies and to find paths that would otherwise be hard to see in 2D.

Speaking to Polygon, Nottingham said the game drew from mythologies of the Cold War, which can be so bizarre that they make for a rich game world.

"In some cases, reality is more crazy than myth."

"There are so many myths surrounding the Cold War, and some of the plans were crazy," he said. "You just have to Google it. Some of the plans were like, 'Can we rig up a cat to be a spy and attach a bugging device to it?'

"Early Bond movies would often center around some megalomaniac plan, and what's funny is how you can find these historical truths, but they were wrapped up in some crazy plan sitting in some filing cabinet somewhere," he said. "It's like, wow, people were actually concocting these. In some cases, reality is more crazy than myth."

Nottingham said the studio is not taking the game world seriously, but it's not a wacky parody, either. He cites Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove as a source if inspiration — "there's something about the way it presents things that seem so absurd, but everyone in the world buys it and takes it seriously."

CounterSpy is currently in development for PlayStation 3, PS Vita and mobile platforms. Updates on the game can be followed at Dynamighty's Tumblr page.