July 8, 2013 at 2:20 PM ET
Video games offer players many fantastical departures from real life. But after killing endless hordes of zombies, Nazis, and dragons in countless video games, do you ever dream of something more ... down to Earth?
Well, you can't get much more grounded than "Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013," a new game from the mysterious developer Stolidus Simulations. As the name of the game implies, "Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013" is a follow up to last year's "Robot Vacuum Simulator 2012." But while the 2012 edition was a 2-D top-down living room maintenance affair, this year's version really pulled out all the stops. Powered by the freely available and thus indie-friendly Unity engine, "Robot Vacuum Simulator 2013" gives players a fully realized 3-D world to roam around in and pick up bits of fuzz and dust as, yes, their very own Roomba.
As the launch trailer shows, Stolidus Simulations took the "simulator" part of "Robot Vacuum Simulator" pretty seriously. The Roomba moves at roughly the same pace and does things that are roughly as exciting as a real-world self-actualizing vacuum cleaner would. In an upgrade from the 2012 version, the game now offers a competitive multiplayer mode in which two Roombas race (in a manner of speaking) around the house, each trying to suck up more dust than the opponent.
A representative from Stolidus Simulations was not immediately available for comment on the game. But judging by the information on the company's website, it seems like the creators like to keep a low profile about their work. Stolidus describes itself as "a world leading company in the field of robotic vacuum simulators," after all — notice that Stolidus says that it's a leading company, not the leading company. It's rare that you see tech companies exercising humility and deference quite this gracefully.
The game is currently freely available for download to the PC or Mac. No word yet on a possible next-generation port to the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, but we'll keep our fingers crossed. Watch the launch trailer below.
— via Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.