Your consciousness occupies a synthoid shell, which starts at the bottom of an alien landscape. Your objective is to exploit the landscape and its resources to gain possession of the highest point on the landscape: the Zenith.
The display is dominated by the view that your synthoid's camera sees.
In this example, the Sentinel can be seen in the distance, and a tree is available for absorption in the left foreground. There are lots of free squares where a new synthoid shell can be created.
Status information is shown below the view. From left to right:
Press M to show or hide an overview of the landscape.
You can rotate this view by dragging it, and zoom with keys I, O or the mouse wheel.
The example shown here is a simple beginner's landscape, where the Sentinel is on the high pedestal, and the player's synthoid is on low ground.
Try not to spend too long looking at the map view; the Sentinel continues to scan while you do so!
At the start of every game, the Sentinel already stands dormant at the Zenith, waiting for activity. When activated, the Sentinel will scan the landscape for objects that contain more than one unit of energy, and scatter that energy around the landscape as trees, worth one unit of energy each.
Unluckily, your synthoid shell is worth three energy units, so if the Sentinel scans a synthoid shell, it will begin to sap energy from it. If your energy reaches zero, any further depletion of energy will destroy the synthoid shell, your consciousness will have no container, and the game ends.
At the beginning of a game, your synthoid will be standing on low ground, looking towards the Zenith. The Sentinel will be dormant, until there is a change of energy on the landscape. A typical starting position is shown in the Map View example above.
When the game starts, you can look around without disturbing the Sentinel. Do so by dragging the view with your left mouse button, or using the cursor keys (press Ctrl for fine control with the cursor keys).
You may zoom the camera view using the mouse wheel, or keys I and O (pressing Ctrl gives you fine control over zooming).
Your synthoid shell does not actually move around the landscape. Instead, you find a new position by creating a new synthoid shell, and transfer your consciousness into the new shell. The old shell will be left behind.
You must have 3 or more energy units in reserve to create a synthoid shell. To create a synthoid shell, point your mouse cursor at a flat square, and press R or 3.
To create a boulder, point your mouse cursor at a flat square, and press B or 2. Boulders cost 2 energy units to create, and if you have enough energy, you can stack more boulders on top of the first boulder to create a high column - upon which you can place a synthoid shell.
To transfer to a synthoid shell, point at it, and press Q.
Remember, your objective is to climb as high as you can, as quickly as you can, so that you can reach the Zenith. Also, if the square you occupy can not be seen by the Sentries, then they can not absorb your energy!
Hover your mouse over a landscape square, or an object, and press key A to absorb it.
You can only absorb an object when you can see the square it stands on, or if you can see the boulder it stands on.
In this example, you would be able to absorb the two trees on the left, but none of the others: the trees above are too high, and you can't see any of the square that the tree in the middle is standing on.
The alarm has activated - the Sentinel has seen you! Soon, it will start scattering any energy reserves you have, so you must move away quickly, to a place that the Sentinel is not scanning.
If you have reached a point high enough, you will be able to look down at the top of the Sentinel's pedestal.
Only then can you complete the escape sequence to progress to the next landscape:
The Sentinel is the last object that you may absorb from a landscape, so if you have time, absorb everything you can first.