By Mento 2 Comments
25/05/12 - Game #22
The source: Winter 2010's Indie Brain Pack, same as Zen Bound 2 and Puzzle Bots.
The pre-amble: Spelunker your way through this procedurally generated game as the titular Tomb Raider Diamond Dan, being mindful of Pitfalls in a frenzied dash for buried treasure like some kind of Manic Miner. Ignore your grumpy archaeologist uncle's Boulderdash, grab the map at the bottom of the screen to unlock the heretofore Uncharted next level and make your way out of the crumbling ruins before it gets too (Rick) Dangerous!
The playthrough: If the pre-amble wasn't clear, I've seen plenty of games that have co-opted the fedorable exploits of one Dr Jones Jr for their own purposes. However, few are as trainwrecky as this exceptionally execrable excavational Steam executable (try saying that five times fast if you're Will Smith). The procedurally generated stuff simply means that every level looks like the same jumbled mess of moving blocks, traps and treasure each time, creating levels that feel about as satisfying to solve as a 12-piece jigsaw, regardless of how cute the resulting photo of a kitten in a big sock might be. That's not to say they're too easy, but that with no level design directing each stage it just feels utterly pointless. I don't want to rail against procedurally generated content either, because I think it's a really neat concept that game developers have yet to fully exploit, but it's one of those "there's a time and a place" things. When you're making a frantic puzzle platformer like this, the players should really want some properly designed levels to think their way through. It's why I wasn't too dazzled with Spelunky either, despite its Indie pedigree.
The most egregious issue, beyond forcing me to perpetuate the over-usage of the word "egregious" in yet another video game review, is how jerky and unresponsive the controls are. This might once again be the fault of a lack of technological prowess in my corner, but given how primitive the game looks I can't really imagine my PC would have a huge amount of trouble with it. I was reliably informed by the game that tapping the space bar will make you jump and a second tap for a double jump, that ol' gravity- and logic-defying favorite, yet it was rare that the game responded to a second tap in time for it to be of any use. The movement was a bit too slippery also for a game that requires you carefully rearrange the topography of a dungeon to proceed, which tends to require you stand in precise spots to push or pull the blocks. It ought to follow a discrete approach - where tapping a direction once would you move you a set distance into the next space, similar to how Toki Tori handles its accuracy-demanding puzzles. When you're getting shown up in the precision stakes by Tweety Pie's obese cousin, something is clearly not right.
Overall, I wasn't enamoured with this game. Less Diamond Dan than Zirconia Zack, if you ask me. Quartz Quincy on a fair day perhaps. I should just stop now before I give them any more ideas for sequels.
The verdict: God, no.