Friday, 1 September 2017

Brainless Escape

I think I've gone about as far as I can with Mechanic Escape, and that's a lot further than I thought I would. The game's not terrible, it's just not really very good either. It's a speed run platformer with instant death and quick and infinite retries, very much in the vein of your Meat Boys and VVVVVVVs. It looks the ticket, too, with bright graphics and cartoony HDness, a nice change from the pixel graphics that usually accompany games of that type. But...and it's a great big smelly but...the controls are horribly imprecise, all floaty and slippery. If there's one thing that you need to be as tight as possible in these types of games, it's the controls, but here they've wilfully gone for something that just feels loose and horrible. I can see their thinking behind it - that it's a part of the game and learning to account for the floatiness is part of the skill, but it's just no fun whatsoever. There's absolutely no need for it, either. The game would have been much better for having tighter controls, end of story. Unfortunately, the poor controls are coupled with poor level design - it's just extremely boring, with very little difference between levels. Also, there are 80 of them...it's way too long for what it is. I got to about level 64 before giving up. The whole rubbishness is compounded by the fact that the viewport is quite zoomed in, so you can't see what's ahead of you. Not what you need in these kinds of games, but obviously designed that way to maximise the frustration. This is coupled with the fact that you usually have some kind of evil monster chasing you, so you're running at full tilt to escape it and blindly jumping into almost certain doom. There's no possible way of knowing what's coming up, you're expected to die and then know where to go the next time around, until you die again at the next trap. On a first run through, I think it'd be impossible to do most levels without dying 5-10 times, and that's just no fun. At least give me a chance to get things right the first time through! There's pretty much only one route through each level jumping at exactly the right spots each time. It feels like you don't have any agency whatsoever, you're just pressing buttons in exactly the sequence the programmer says you can, and where's the fun in that? It's essentially a Tool Assisted Speedrun, but you're the tool. Ironically, the 30-year old Monuments of Mars that I played a few months ago is a much better example of the genre than this. So, meh. It's boring, imprecise, spiteful, and makes me angry every time I play it. Sod that. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Highway Patrol 2! It's not one I'm familiar with. Looks like a Chase HQ pretender.

I'm also going to knock Brain Challenge on the head. This came out on the PS3 in the wave of post Brain Training DS games. It's a utility, I guess, rather than a game per se. It presents a series of challenges that you have to complete in a time limit, things like maths problems and logic puzzles. I do actually find these things quite fun, so I might keep it around on the PS3 to check in every now and again and see if it can increase my brain power - Lord knows, I need it. I'm going to count it as complete on the list, though.

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