During GDC 2015, coming up on two years ago, we sat down with developer Sean Kearney to look at his newest project called Zero Sum. You may know Kearney from one of his previous games called One Player Pong (Free), which was a decent game on its own but with the added benefit of having an amazing trailer. He followed that up with an Apple TV version called Super One Player Pong that had an equally amazing trailer. So, obviously Kearney has a sense of humor, and that extended to his game Zero Sum. You see, the premise of Zero Sum is that you’re a grad student named Sarah Jacobs who, together with her mentor Professor, discovers the cure for cancer via a long and drawn-out whiteboard equation a la Good Will Hunting. Just as this life-changing discovery is made, an evil terrorist bursts onto the scene ready to steal the cure for his organization’s nefarious purposes. They gun down the professor, but in her final moments she makes a brilliant move and erases the plusses and minuses from the cancer-curing equation, rendering it useless to the terrorists. Now, it’s up to Sarah to fill in the missing parts of the equation and cure cancer… again! Cue the over-dramatic trailer!
If you were thinking the star of the trailer looks mighty familiar, that’s because Sarah Jacobs is played by renowned YouTube star Lisa Schwartz, aka lisbug aka lilschwartzie. It’s not often you get a little full-motion video gaming mixed in with your math puzzling, but that’s totally the case with Zero Sum as you can see in this second trailer which focuses less on the drama and a little more on the actual mechanics in the game, which Kearney describes as “kinda like if Sudoku and Die Hard had a weird baby together."
Being that the game is about curing cancer, Kearney will be donating half of the profits from Zero Sum to the American Cancer Society, so you can get a warm fuzzy feeling from spending money on the game and hey, maybe that little extra bit will be all the organization needs to actually cure cancer. I was already pretty sold on the mechanics of the game back at GDC 2015, but seeing how the overly dramatic and ultimately unnecessary terrorists-stealing-the-cure-for-cancer subplot has come along now I’m completely sold on Zero Sum. Kearney is targeting March for a release and will be selling Zero Sum as a paid app with no IAP. In the meantime you can keep tabs on the game by joining the discussion in our forums.