Meltdown – Gameplay from Varun Nair on Vimeo.

Crack – that snapping wood might just be something about to eat you!

There is likely some evolutionary need for human hearing to be good at localizing sound in space. Whatever the reason, human perception is exceptionally precise when it comes to working out the position from which a sound originates. Conventional stereo sound just doesn’t do much with it. Using binaural sound, by contrast, you can position sound more accurately.

And then you can play a game with your ears instead of just your eyes.

“Meltdown” applies that idea to gameplay, mixing together ambient sounds from the environment with cues that tell you where monsters lie. Invading “creeptures” from another dimension reveal themselves sonically, and it’s up to you to zap them. You wander around your environment, armed only with your trusty iPhone, listening for danger via headphones and stabbing invisible baddies with gestural kills. The game is the work of Abesh Thakur, Orfeas Boteas, Richard Robinson and Varun Nair at the University of Edinburgh.

For a similar idea, see also:
Music as Gameplay: Johann Sebastian Joust, Played With Only Sound and Gesture

This game is a bit lonelier than that one – it’s single-player horror to Johann Sebastian Joust’s merry collaboration. But it’s fun watching more people play with the idea. The tools:

For now, it’s clearly all a prototype – though as the creator notes, that’s a strength of Max. The next step would be making a native game. The creator is looking for feedback, though, so consider this a first draft and let us (and him) know what you think.