To Flock or not to Flock?

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#1  Edited By ahhsumx

Just did a write up for Gaming.Linnnk about this game. I've pasted the content of the post here so you don't have to go to the site to read it, but if you wanna comment it'd be awesome if you did so over there! The full post can be viewed by following this: To Flock or not to Flock on Gaming.Linnnk (there is also images in that post, makes it a bit easier on the eyes to read). Following now is the post, hope you enjoy!

I love Flock because it has a ton of personality and potential, but at the same time I’m often frustrated by Flock because it’s kind of like one big escort mission after another and let’s face it, nobody likes escort missions. Luckily, Flock does escorting a bit better than your everyday escort mission inside a game because that is the focus of this game; and not just one escort at a time but often in the double digits with lots of potential dangers. So, does Flock pull it off? Well, it’s complicated…

Flock does a lot of things really well. The art style is great, the variety in levels and farm animals is great and they’ve included all kinds of little things around the world that are cool. For example, the main thing you’ll be flocking is sheep and one of the first techniques they teach you is that when there is water and you run the sheep through them they shrink! They only stay shrunk while they’re wet, but during so you can fit them under fences that you can’t move out of their way.

There are 4 different animals you herd in the main game, each behaves differently. The sheep are your basic followers and react to the water I stated. Then there are cows that move a little slower at first, but then will stampede after a short while and are able to knock down fences. After that comes the Chickens that move a lot like the sheep, but when you push them off a ledge they will glide for a short distance allowing them to cross gaps. Lastly, the pigs! These are probably my least favorite as they roll around and there’s often bumpers in their levels that they bounce off of if you run into them too hard, very annoying.

Each level contains a variation of these animals and a goal of how many of each you need to abduct to complete the level. The goal is usually significantly less than the amount of each animal you are given so this creates the notion of a “completed” level and a “perfect” abduction. There is always a timer running and each level is considered completed when you have rescued the goal number of each animal. So to get a gold medal you just have to get that many animals to your ship in the allotted time.

Then, you have all the time in the world to collect the rest of the animals for the perfect abduction. There’s really no benefit to perfect abductions unless you are a completionist. Though I found that each level is laid out in such a way that there is a path through it that will collect all the animals in one sweep. Rarely did it feel out of the way to collect all animals, though it was definitely trickier on several occasions than just grabbing the necessary.

There are a few other mechanics in the game that add some variety to how you solve levels. Some of these things are in the environment such as hay fields that animals have difficulty walking through or bottomless pits that animals will fall in if you aren’t careful. To counteract these dangers your ship gets some upgrades through the adventure to help. The first of these is a beam that can pick stuff up like bails of hay to fill pits or lift up certain types of fences. The second is the opposite, a beam that can push stuff down that can be used for flattening things like these hay fields. I don’t want to spoil to much more on these though as they are key elements to solving many of the games levels.

So now, that’s all good and well, but let’s go back to how no one likes escort missions. This game is one gigantic escort mission in which you don’t hold hands with those you are escorting, but you are pushing them. To be more clear, here’s an example: you are on the right side of some sheep and you want to move them to the right, you must go around them in a big enough circumference that you don’t push them away and then come back at them from the left side to push them to the right. Your ship is always pushing when it moves so you have to be very careful where you are in proximity to the animals and the direction you are traveling.

This can make it very frustrating when you overshoot and need to get on the other side of your herd. I suppose it could be argued that you just need to hone your skill, but I personally found it more punishing than it ever was rewarding. However, I do feel that this was taken into account when setting the times for medals on each level because I rarely found myself with a bronze medal unless I really messed up. I’m more disappointed though that I never felt at one with the controls than I am that they adjusted the game to be forgiving because of the controls.

There is a lot of content in this game though if you’re willing to practice. There are 55 levels in the main campaign and also a spring campaign that features bunnies as your animal you herd. On top of that there is a level editor you can use to make levels out of the items you collect around the world and user created levels you can download to play. So, you should virtually never run out of content! Though, I’m still held short of being able to fully recommend this game due to the fact that mechanics just don’t feel intuitive no matter wether you use the keyboard and mouse, arrow keys or a controller.    

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