*Spoiler warning on one of the endings for those that are interested.* Well I spent as much time as I could trying to complete the cure, only to have nobody to save with it by the end. My wife killed herself, the lab workers all committed mass suicide, I don't know if my daughter was saved, and the city seemed completely devoid of life by the last day. Seems quite poignant that by trying to remedy what you caused you end up being alone in the aftermath.
This was really engaging and could be interesting to see how everyone would react differently if put in the same situation. I may have to pry the game from you to try and see the different endings.
Glitchy but Good Fun
For your first game this really is a great start out. It's a nifty little concept with a simple (and a little bit sad) story. I quite like the art style you used here as well, especially for 'Rex' (I called him Snuffles). Watching him happily run around each time despite being in dire or dangerous scenarios was actually quite comical. The games mechanics did tend to run mainly on trial and error, but that is the case with the majority of sidescrollers or puzzle platformers. The difficulty curve I found to be quite decent, finding myself stuck on some levels but breezing my way through others. This could just be dumb luck though nearing the end of the game after reading about the difficulties others have had.
Unfortunately as mentioned by many already, there are a number of glitches or inconsistencies throughout the game can can become a real pain at times. The ones I personally experienced a lot of were; if you had a bone dropped and died 'Rex' would immediately sprint off to find it when restarting often causing you to start again, when positioning 'Rex' on a moving platform he would automatically appear at the top of it (which when you're standing on his head usually causes instant death), and 'Rex' sometimes randomly flicking the direction he's facing causing a tumble and often death. I'm no programmer so I don't know if these are fixable or even foreseeable, but don't overall really detract from the experience. It just meant I had to adapt to their possibility in some puzzle elements.
I would say this is a rock solid effort, possibly even worthy of a sequel if that works its way in there. I'll be looking forward to see what more you come up with in the future.
Each Part Brings Something New
What I like most about the Icescape series is that each part brings a new element to the game. The original Icescape had you racing against a time limit before you froze to death. Icescape 2, introduced FPS sequences which did vary gameplay, but I felt weakened the game somewhat as it relied quite heavily on them which were often annoyingly difficult. This installment seems to have found a good balance in difficulty with the shooting aspect. So long as you have some mild planning before firing it shouldn't be a difficult challenge, and in some cases you won't even have to plan.
As for the puzzles, I've found these to be some of the easiest in one of your games to date. The only real challenge I could see for some would be being required to read Roman numerals. There are elements that could be improved on, but for the most part this hits the mark of being enjoyable and not too challenging. I found it fairly straightforward in comparison to earlier installments and some of you other work, but others have claimed to have difficulty so it seems it will come down to the individual in the end.
I will make a special note of the music. Every game you produce has an excellent score which really adds to the creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere of being alone in each game, which seems to be a recurring theme. For my money it's what you do best.
You have these short episodic series down pat, most evident by Being One (in my opinion your strongest work to date). I'd be very interested in seeing what you could do with a project on a much larger scale in length, incorporating elements such as fully voiced interactive characters, longer gameplay length and grand arching puzzles. Something in the vein of Myst, but of course not to that large a scale. I have a feeling it's something you could do very well. I'll be looking forward to what comes next.
Thanks for the in-depth review, very much appreciated!! I will certainly be taking your advice on-board in future projects!! Tombscape 2 should be online VERY soon so i hope you check it out!!
Good Sequel and Beginning
I remember playing the previous Griswold the Goblin game and enjoying it immensely, so it's great to see the sequell hit the net. Especially seeing the bar being raised in a lot of areas since the first one. First of all, the art style used by Chris is excellent. The cartoony look is very crisps and clean and comes across as very professional, as does the incredibly smooth animation of Grisworld and the world he interacts with. Programming is practically flawless as well. At one point I did come across what I thought was a bug. While in the labyrinth I was walking right to the screen with the lumberjack, but ended up in the first screen of the Dark Passage. However this did not happen a second time I followed the path and the game carried on as normal. It was likely just a one off glitch and didn't affect the playthrough at all.
I would say that the story was far too simple and didn't seem to actually go anywhere, but as you've said yourself that this is only the first chapter to create the setting and the story will be fleshed out in later parts, which it does very well. It was nice to have a little bit of light humour throughout the game, which made it quite enjoyable to play through. Griswold's complete indifference to his world in particular is quite humourous. He sees someone get eaten by a giant flower, and where most would probably be shocked he instead sees an opportunity to get a free chicken. Also I don't know if it was intentional, but I did get a kick out of the fact that most of this game involved you searching for a rope to avoid having to just jump down the well, only to have you in the end fall down it anyway. A bit ironic don't you think?
The biggest problem with point and click games is finding that balance between puzzles that are actually doable but ones which are not overly easy and provide little to no challenge. GTG for the most part has this balance but does to jump either side of the line now and then with some really obscure solutions to certain puzzles, and I did end up having to use to walkthrough to solve some of them. (The one that stumped me was fishing for lava, which I'll admit is something that I never would've considered). Mind you after using the walkthrough I often felt like kicking myself for missing something which looking back seems completely obvious. Quite often on some of the least obvious puzzles there are subtle hints which direct you in the right direction, you just have to look for them. A number of people seem to be complaining about the inclusion of minigames and who they distract from the main quest the game centres around. I have to disagree and say that they add a nice bit of variation to the game, and are not exactly difficult to the point where they'd be 'distracting'.
The voice acting was also top notch right down from Josh Tomar's opening narration to each of the characters. In particular the Weeping Widow was quite impressive. The music score additionally was perfect for the game, never getting too annoying or distraction as many in-game loops do. All in all this is a fun game, a great sequel and a good set up for the rest of the chapters to come. I'll be looking forward to the future releases. Though looking back I do have to wonder, where does Griswold lives in a cave, so where exactly is he plugging his TV into? Guess that's fantasy for you.
Things have changed a lot since we released the original Griswold. We have learnt a lot over the past few years but may have lost the magic and imagination we had when making the original Griswold.
We're glad to see that you enjoyed this game as well as the original Griswold. The story will become far more complex with the sequels and we will improve on everything we can by listening to everyones views and suggestions. There was a little intended irony in the fact that you just fell down the well all along. We didn't get time but the original plan was to show that if Griswold had fallen from a greater hight it would have been fatal instead he shaved a few meters off his fall and survived.
I do agree that the mini games are necessary in the game as they provide the player with a little bit of variety from the normal game play. What we have to work on in sequels is some more engaging and thought provoking puzzles as well as some new interesting ideas for environments and characters.
We're hoping that we can really give you something greatly improved in the sequels. We need to work hard to improve a lot of the issues that people have brought up in this game.
Thanks for the lengthy review!
P.S. all I can say is if in this world theres goblins, spiders that can talk and there's giant man eating fly traps and monsters having tea parties, I think its completely reasonable that he could have a TV that works on magic instead of using a power outlet :D
Good Scary Fun
Point and click games are a dime a dozen, so it's always good to see one made with a very effective concept with just as much fun and style.
First of all, the graphics and art used in the game are very good. The house actually did look like a dilapidated old building with something to hide. The gameplay was also incredibly smooth and straightforward, never presenting a too serious obstacle to distract from gameplay. I did enjoy the concept of searching through a haunted house, photographing elements of paranormal activity. Many a time I would be focussing at something else, then quickly grabbing for the camera as I noticed a chair moving in the corner. The rate at which some objects move could have been slightly increased or better hinted at. I did find myself a number of times staring at a cup waiting for it to move, deciding it wasn't going to and then turn away only to have it slide down the table, just missing it. But then again you don't want to make the game too easy.
One inconsistency I did come across while playing was that I never visited the attic until the very end, yet your character comments on how every candle he finds will be useful for the pentagram. If he's never seen it, he shouldn't know it exists. But it's only a small error.
The backstory to the house was told effectively through the diary pages and newspaper article and while pretty typical, suited the game well enough. However, I felt that it could have had far more depth. During your search you could have ended up actually investigating the murders that took place yourself and possibly using the scattered occult objects to confront the angry spirits which haunt the house. In the end I'm still not sure what their purpose was, apart from pretty scavenger hunt items. There could have been a lot more detail.
Something which I think could be improved on which would greatly improve how the game was played would be to really emphasise the appearance of ghosts. With the exception of the one which jumps out of a closet, the rest really weren't that scary. I ended up reacting more like a tourist, "Oooh there's one! Quick take a picture!", than getting frightened. To really add to the scare effect, when a ghost appears (Or is about to appear) the addition of flickering lights, sudden darkness, an increase in the volume of ambient sounds or the like would really grab the player's attention as they stop doing everything to look for the specific spook. The Exmortis series by Ben Leffler in particular does this sort of thing very well.
This is a very solid game, which plays well and looks excellent. There are only a few areas which I think could be improved on and developed out which would make this a genuinely scary game and a solid contender against other horror titles.
Tip: For those who cannot open the cases scattered throughout the game, there is a scrap of paper in the right bedroom which translates symbols into numbers. Near each case there should be a corresponding 4-symbol code which will open it after translation.
Thanks for the feedback, very very useful!!
Time to F@$% Off to Space Now
I've lost track of how many months this was stuck in the pipeline and it's great to see it's finally been dislodged and let out into the sunlight. I honestly can't remember the last time I had this much fun playing a flash game.
The animation and graphics are impressive and smooth as ever. It's always amazing to look back on the early Blockhead cartoons and see how much you've improved over the years, and once again you've set yourself another bar. The individual character models of all the minions and henchmen were also unique to each character and I got a couple of laughs out of some of them. The amount of individual animated scenes for all the missions and sanctum meetings is actually quite staggering, and had more than enough variance between them and witty dialogue to stop them from becoming boring. I can only imagine how long it took to put them all together.
The gameplay itself was intuitive, simple and highly effective. Once you got the hang of it and remembered where everything was it was a very straightforward process to plot and execute missions. What I found most impressive was how everything blended together uniquely to create an individual gaming experience. If you set out to sabotage, assassinate and steal everything and everyone you're notoriety goes through the roof and you'll be spending most of your time defending your base, but if you focus on propaganda and hire the right henchmen to do the right jobs you can fly under the radar as long as you can. My own funny experience was that I'd forgotten that you had to evacuate your base in order to travel to a new one so I spent a good 70% of the game slumming it out in Philadelphia wondering why I wasn't getting the benefits of my skyscraper.
The music fitted perfectly and as always was composed by you. You're basically a jack-of-all-trades aren't you? I'll be expecting you to be building your own computer from wood and making your own software from old solitaire programs in the future.
A huge congratulations goes to the voice actors who all took part in the game. The voices all excellent quality and well acted and each added a uniqueness to the characters. Special mention definitely goes to Tomamoto's Tutorial Minion #7 which made some aspects of the game which could have been quite tedious perfectly enjoyable.
One feature which I think would have made the game better would have been the ability to group together minions or order them to move to separate areas individually. Quote often I'd end up having all of my minions chase after a single fleeing soldier while my base was being attacked on the other side by five tanks. While it never really posed a problem, even simple orders like 'Move Here' or 'Hold Position Here' would have been helpful. On the other hand, it also might have made it too easy, so it's on a coin toss really.
Overall you've made a flash gem here, one that was definitely worth all the time and effort it took. A great blend of seriousness and Swain humour, with intuitive and fun gameplay with huge amount of replay value. You should be proud Mike, be very proud.
Spoiler Tip: A good way to set yourself for a decisive and easy win is to start off focussing on building your economy. You can't take on missions without income, so make sure you have a steady natural cash flow from investments and always have at least one patsy who can almost guarantee successes of cash raids. Otherwise you'll find yourself at points unable to fund new missions and unable to afford minions and defensive structures when you get attack, and after that it's just downhill.
Entertaining With a Lot of Potential
I expected this to basically be a generic side scrolling swordplay game. Which, for the most part, it is. But in it's defence it is one with a huge amount of style.
First of all the graphics in Straw Hat Samurai are simple, but effective and animate together very smoothly. It would have been nice to see some variations on the different enemies other than just green man with sword, bow, shield or spear. Even making the enemies more personable and less generic would have probably been enough, and that only requires adding a beard to a character model or changing a shirt colour.
I'm undecided on the lack of sound in the game being a good or bad choice. As mentioned in some other reviews, there seems to be a want for sounds of battle. While I can see where this is coming from, with the number of enemies I sometimes had on the screen at some points, I can only wonder if this would have made the game far too chaotic. Battle cries for the enemies would have been a welcome addition however, rather than a mute horde. As for the in-game soundtrack, the chosen music fitted perfectly, but a change in the song every now and then would have also been welcome. Even id only on particular levels.
The gameplay itself is incredibly simple and incredibly effective. The click and drag sword swipe method is intuitive and works well. But I found there was a lack of variation in what you were actually able to do under the surface. While it was obvious you were attacking with a sword, there was no real difference in how you could kill an enemy soldier. You either ran them through or managed to cut off their head. Additional animations cutting off different limbs, or even having injured enemies carrying on fighting or trying to retreat would have really added to the combat. The bow itself was not all that useful to use outside of levels where you were required to shoot enemies from afar.
As with all sidescrollers it runs the risk of becoming repetitive as you face off against the same moronic enemy over and over, but most of the time SHS avoids this by including occasional variations of battle elements such as the catapult and watchtower sequences. While they didn't drastically change the game, they added enough variation to stop the battles becoming overly tedious. In particular I was intrigued when the game shifted from sidescrolling fights to strategic troop placing. It was a nice shift in gameplay style and a welcome one at that point, but also ended up being the low point in the game for me. Your own troops just don't seem to be very effective at all against the enemy's superior numbers and advances. If you push forward your numbers dwindle and the enemy troops just clean you up on all sides, but if you hold your own to make a slow push forward the enemy's numbers grow to high for you to make a meaningful attack when you do. In the end my own army was destroyed completely leaving me trapped in a corner to slog it out on my own. It's only afterwards I realised that you were never intended to be able to defeat the opposing army, but more create a path to make your slog to the tent easier, so it was likely my own fault and suffering from a case of bravado I chose to try and take on an army which outnumbered my own ten-to-one.
The only real gripe is that there is no form of a save feature. This would have been especially handy in the situation I've already mentioned as I could have reverted before I went on a suicide mission, and I don't really want to play from the beginning just to risk loosing it all in the same place again.
All in all, Straw Hat Samurai has a lot of flair and is fun to play, and the fact the entire game is only 700KB is nothing short of impressive considering the content. I only suffered the occasional slowdown on a couple of levels, but that would be because I played it on a computer which has more worth as an expensive paperweight. Adding a save feature for the player would round the entire game off and is the game's only real flaw. Good luck for the Golden Joystick Awards, this should be a decent competitor.
Challangin and Original
You've outdone yourself with this one Mike, this tops any Blockhead project to date in presentation, originality, ambition, and size. (Jeez 13.5MB?)
It's only just occurred to me that the game has a similar interface to The Sims. It's odd how I personally never like The Sims games, but to me the gameplay in this game didn’t seem to get old at all. Very strange.
Props to Komix and his programming skills. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for him to get this game finished. And for not passing out when he heard the crazy ideas and additions I'm sure you would have come up with in the process of creation.
The voices were once again amazingly done. (All by you again?)
And the musical score fitted the game very well, so well done to Sexual Lobster for his part as well.
Now I don't seem to come across the bugs that many others have claimed to suffer from, the only real grievance I have is using the Bad Idea option really takes itself far too long to switch itself off. So it really lives up to its name I guess.
Now for those of you who are struggling to complete this, use the tutorials, and use BOUNCING! It will get you through any level with plenty of attention span and anger bar left to spare.
Also pick up a fire extinguisher anytime you can. It probably won't help you all that much, but the results of Blockhead interacting with the NPCs is quite funny to watch.
The game certainly has come a long way, and become much easier, ever since the beta version myself and others tested around the end of October. Pretty much owing to the fact that we had no tutorials to help us, unfinished programming for goals, and no clue about what we were doing or where our goals actually were. So to the people complaining about difficulty now, imagine how the testers felt, we were much worse off than you were. ^_^
This game Mike is truly a milestone in your flash career. I only hope you can maintain the bar which you have just set yourself in future projects.
An Excellent Comeback
After a disappearance of who knows how long, I have to say you guys really know how to make an entrance with this comeback game.
The art held true to the simplistic, cartoon-like feel that Another Day has. Yet the 3D element was an interesting mix, giving it an entire rework and bringing it across crisp and polished. The animation was fluent and ran seamlessly together.
I know little of scripting but never had any problems while playing; hence it was done very well.
The game itself was simple and at the same time challenging. I haven’t quite beaten it yet, but I intend to return and do so.
Props to Dustball for the music and Ego for the voice work. Both served to life the production standards and fitted really well.
This seems to have raised the bar in flash games ever so slightly. This game is probably your best work to date.
Thanks for the awesome review :) It wouldn't have been half as good without Dustball's music, and Ego added that extra flare as always.
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