Everybody Edits, which I discovered this week after a write-up on JayisGames – is bold, ingenious, and often rakishly unplayable. It’s a very simple 2D platformer made ludicrously complicated by the fact that everybody who fires it up can then edit the large multi-player environments in real-time, provided the level creator has allowed them the right to. Move around, jump, or layer on entirely new chunks of brickwork – it’s a dazzling and disconcerting place to spend a few minutes of your lunch break, and it’s an experience you won’t quickly forget.
Within the game’s hundreds of different levels, you’ll find plenty of examples of players working together in studious harmony and creating smart, race-tuned chunks of 2D glory, spanning a surprisingly wide range of genres. More often than not, however, when you enter the unprotected 'open' worlds in particular, what you’ll end up with is absolute chaos. A lot of the most entertaining places I’ve checked out in Everybody Edits are like rambling, 8-bit migraines, and they’re filled with dead ends, accidental traps and lengthy drops leading to nowhere. When you’ve fallen pray to another player’s quick fix solution and you’re wedged within the geometry, the most obvious temptation is to reach for the mouse and create your own quick fix solution to get out again, and so the game can lurch on from one bodged idea to the next, as signals are buried under noise and each environment undergoes a strange variation on universal heat death. Some levels simply stop, minutes into your exploration. Others slowly burn out, or descend into graffiti.
It’s still fascinating to take part in, though, not least because you’re given a handful of genuinely neat toys to mess around with: you can meddle with the gravity, place keys and special doors around the environments, and even pay to unlock things like new kinds of blocks and better avatar options. You can get to work quickly, and you can collaborate efficiently, if you want to. And if you don’t want to, you can edit competitively, exploring the grey area between griefing and playful aggression as you sabotage another editor’s hard work while they, in turn, try to mess with your own plans.
There’s no denying that, as an artefact of gaming’s often uncomfortable relationship with user-generated content, Everybody Edits is both more democratic and more accessible than most. This particular game comes with no complex menus to dig through, and no tricky added dimensions to wrap your head around. The end result, most of the time, feels like one of the hubristic theme parks from a Michael Crichton novel – a technological playpen itching to go entertainingly haywire.