Archive for the ‘experimental’ Category

Game Review: Somersault

October 28, 2008

Written by Scott Thomas Myatt

 

Enter the strange and wonderful worlds of Somersault and bounce your little companion “Bally” through hazard and hard times.

Gameplay 7/10

Somersault by Enter-Brain-Ment, is something I’d call “a diamond in the rough”. It’s one of those games that stands out just that bit more. It offers something most games in this day and age fail to deliver, originality. The objective of the game is to navigate your little companion “Bally” through each level by clicking and dragging a paddle by left clicking and literally bouncing your colourful little character through each environment.

The size of the paddle determines the amount of bounce and the projected rainbow which shows the path Bally will take. Each level is full of its different sort of hazards, may it be a blender, a persistent UFO or even a friendly bird pecking the inside of the tree as you navigate into its depths. Although entertaining, the game is not without fault. Playing Somersault with a track pad is almost impossible and the occasional slopes in frame rates really do beg the occasional cringe.

Graphics 5/10

Although simple at most times Somersault gives way to some impressively beautiful scenery. Bally is simply, a ball with legs, bright and orange with a little cheerful hat. (Just think of an orange version of Mr. Potato head and you’ll have the gist of it.) The GUI/HUD are however, ugly at best. Despite the badly created 2D aspects of the game, the overall feel of Somersault isn’t lowered… much.

Sound/Music 4/10

Sadly in the sound department the game doesn’t live up to much, with random little sound effects here, there and everywhere overall doesn’t help the game in anyway. The music is more ‘cutesy’ and has a nice calm feel to it as you traverse the game.

Lasting appeal 5/10

Somersault will take up a good proportion of your time if you can bare the first outing. With 21 levels to spend your time on and in most cases “force” your way through each level, you have to wonder “Do I really want to play this game again?” A decidedly average game overall and rough around the edges, its easy to see that Enter-Brain-Ment still have a fair bit to go, however props to the guys for pushing out this innovative little jewel.

Pros:

Innovative gameplay

Beautiful backdrops

Cons:

Rough around the edges.

Frame-rate lets it down at points.

Verdict: 55%

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World of Goo Review

October 18, 2008

World of Goo is the first game from Indie Game Studio, 2D Boy. Founded by Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel, 2D Boy’s goal (according to their website) is to “make games that everyone can play, with gameplay nobody has seen before.” Well, they have certainly met this goal with World of Goo. World of Goo is hard to pigeon hole into one game genre. I guess if I had to label it I would describe it as a goo-construction physics puzzle action game. Basically, you drag and drop goo balls to build towers, bridges etc. towards a vacuum pipe that sucks up all the remaining goos. The game is definitely out there and utterly unique, but it’s also incredibly sublime.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: The gameplay is unlike any other game out there. It’s sort of like building with K’nex…except their goo balls with little personalities. Each level poses a brand new challenge and the game controls are pretty basic (drag & click). The game introduces new goos at a great pace which helps keep the puzzles and goo building fresh. There’s sort of a story and its interestingly told.
Cons: The game is over too fast, but great games always are. Large goo structures can be tricky to build and frustrating tip over…but the limited level skips are always enough to keep you moving along the campaign.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: The art style is probably the best thing about the game. It is very odd…especially the cutscenes and some of the level pieces (Girl Goo Heads, Wacky Hands, Creepy Robot Heads, etc) but utterly charming. The game’s first chapter is very clean and colorful…but as the game progresses the art style starts permeating through and gets weirder and weirder along with the wacky story. All this oddity is a good thing though. The visuals never get boring and the presentation and execution is excellent.


Sound/Music: 10/10
Pros: The music perfectly fits the art style and mood, but what really makes the games auditory experience so excellent are the sound effects. Goo giggles, mumbles gibberish, inflates, etc. and the People of World of Goo speak emphatic gibberish as well…but all along the way convey emotion. That coupled with the sheer humor of the it all makes it incredibly enjoyable.


Lasting Appeal: 8/10
Pros: There are 5 Chapters and an Epilogue, with each world having a decent number of levels (~10) but when a game is this enjoyable and completely lacks tedium you always want more. The Global Ranking score system add replayability and the meta game of using extra goo to build the tallest tower also adds longevity to the title.
Cons: Ultimately the game can be beaten over a weekend and every level played.

Average: 95.00%
Tilt: +2.00%

What it comes down to is that World of Goo is one of the finest and most original games I have played in recent years. It may not be the longest experience, but much like XBLA’s Braid, Goo maintains an interest and high quality throughout every level of the game. The game is a fantastic experience that will be thoroughly enjoyed, but then you can move on. This approach to indie games is excellent because ultimately and indie studio cannot compete with the longevity of a commercial studio game. This is what they do best – Wow you with originality, art style and uniqueness and offer you a fantastic experience for the fraction of the price of a full scale commercial title. World of Goo is an exceptional game at an exceptional price. There’s really no excuse not to experience the creativity, art, and fun that permeates this game.

Verdict: 97%

flOw Mini Review

October 13, 2008

I’m not really sure if flOw is a video game, but it certainly is an experience. As a game, flOw lacks gameplay, complexity, and challenge, but it’s slogan is “…life could be simple.” That slogan really embodies what flOw is. flOw is an incredibly fresh and relaxing voyage into the depths of a simple oceanic world. The gameplay is simple, but the presentation, graphics and sound work incredibly well. As a game, the only real incentive to keep playing is to evolve your creature and unlock new creatures, but flOw is enjoyable beyond that. Just as a good album is great to pop in and relax to, flOw is a great thing to start up just to veg out on the couch and experience the “lights and sounds” if you will. For less than the price of a movie ticket ($8.99), you can experience flOw and this unique gaming experience really should not be missed. Congrats to thatgamecompany.

Verdict: 88%