The list of games made for Experimental Gameplay November/December ’12 is up, and I thought I would give a bit of a mini review for each of them, since I participated this time around.
Hypothermia was my game, so I can’t really review it fairly. Nonetheless, I’m quite happy with the way it turned out, and I would consider it feature-complete, which is always a good goal. The postmortem is here.
Firesweeper has an interesting idea behind it, but I never quite figured it out. You’re supposed to control the spread of a fire by dropping water on a grid of squares, Minesweeper style. I might just be terrible at it, but I couldn’t find a consistent logic behind the fire’s spread or the way that it was counteracted by the water.
5 summers left reminded me a lot of Braid — what I was able to play of it, that is. It’s a puzzle platformer where you interact with the level in different ways depending on the season; for example, the ground is slippery during winter, but enemies are frozen in place. I didn’t get very far in the time I played it; it’s quite hard, and there’s no checkpoint or life counter system, which means starting the entire level over each time you die. I think it has promise, although I would like to see the limit on season changes removed.
Too hot too cold is another puzzle platformer that plays with switching back and forth between temperatures, but you change the state of the character instead of changing the world. Lighting yourself on fire allows you to burn through crates, and freezing yourself lets you break ice blocks. Remaining in either state for too long will kill you, but getting close enough to death gives you special powers for a short time. Later levels of the game rely on the use of these powers to complete, so getting a feel for how long you have to live is essential. This was one of my favorites.
Global warming was another one I really liked, probably due to my penchant for games where speed is the objective. You play a penguin running along an ice floe as it melts beneath his feet, trying to stay alive as long as possible. You earn money as you run, which allows you to purchase upgrades to increase your speed and acceleration. It’s good mindless fun, especially late in the game when all stats have been maxed out.
Temperature gods is an interesting RPG fighting game where you have to manage not only your health and mana, but also the temperature of the planet which you rule. Driving the temperature of the planet towards your goal increases your mana and gives you an edge on your opponent, but a lower temperature will give him the advantage. The soundtrack is quite excellent, and the mechanics of the game are sound — with a little polish it could be really great.
Heating and Cooling is another game I don’t quite understand. The goal is to keep the temperature of your house at a certain level by catching snowballs and fireballs. This works well, but I’m not sure that there’s a win state. A timer keeps track of how long you last, but there’s no scoring or leaderboard, so I don’t know that that’s for either. It’s obvious that there’s still work to be done, though, so maybe a future update will fix those problems.
Defenders of the Core is a top-down turn based strategy game in which you control a squad of firefighters trying to contain a blaze. You build a team up of several different classes that are designed to work together: for example, the Hydromancer can create hydrants, but a level 2 Firefighter is required in order to attach hoses to them. It’s very much a work in progress, according to the developer, but it looks like it has promise.
Last, but certainly not least, is Hot Plates. This one is my favorite of all the games that were submitted, and it barely squeaked in before the deadline. It’s a puzzle game based on Richard Feynman‘s work on theoretical physics. You control an ant which must find its way to all the food in the level within a certain number of steps. Temperature zones on the map affect the distance the ant can travel with each step; the warmer the zone, the further he can move. I started playing it and couldn’t walk away until I had beaten every level. It’s the only game I can think of which I’ve replayed over and over again in order to get gold ratings on all the levels (although getting higher than silver on 11, 15 and 18 still evades me). Hands down the best game of them all.
I really enjoyed participating, and it’s awesome to see so many other great games come out of the challenge as well. I’m going to be participating in OneGameAMonth this year, so I’m sure I’ll be able to incorporate Experimental Gameplay in with that.
Until next time!