Sunday, 24 January 2010

Larva Mortus Review

Thanks to Game Giveaway of the Day, I managed to try out the game Larva Mortus by Rake in the Grass. It's a mission based top down arena shooter with a victorian era lovecraft style theme. The game plays like most other top down shooters. You enter an area comprised of various rooms and have to kill everything using an assortment of different weapons ranging from pistols to flamethrowers. Occasionally you have to save people or destroy specific monsters but otherwise it's pretty much kill everything. Overall, I found the basics excellent. The sword remains fairly useful in the game for clearing out weak enemies, the guns deal sufficient damage and handle differently from each other and are effectively against certain types of enemies. As you defeat enemies, you also get experience which will level up your character. When you level up you will be able to increase your abilities such as speed or health. There are also special artifacts which can increase your character's weapons or abilities. The main game has you deal with collecting a demonic artifact and there are also side quests you can take to increase your experience and arsenal. There's also a nice in game information book where you can check up more info about enemies you've killed and other statistics.

Unfortunately, there were a number of niggles that only make this a fun but otherwise average shooter and lack many features of polished freeware areana shooters.
* Limited Game modes - Aside from the standard campaign and a couple of side quests there isn't a survival mode or puzzle challenge mode which have become standard in these sorts of games.
* No way to reload weapons aside from entering a mission - It seems strange that the game gives you a world map to choose missions from and two rooms to view weapons and trophies but omits some way of reloading your weapons. This led me to some rather strange situations where I would enter a new mission with no pistol or shotgun ammo and have to rely on my sword for a while. They could have at least given me full ammo for my most basic weapons! What does the hunter do with all the money he gets anyway?
* No way of knowing how to unlock artifacts or trophies - There's no real way of knowing when you get the artifacts and trophies, they seem to be random drops so there's no way of working towards them.
* Rooms are a bit too small in some cases. Sometimes the room areas are little too small making fighting certain enemies more awkward than necessary.
* Powerups are hard to obtain - Sometimes powerups will be dropped by enemies but since this is a game where enemies tend to swarm you in hordes I usually end up unable to pick up powerups until after clearing the room. This is related to the small room size issue above.
* More environmental dangers and more interaction with the environment - There are a handful of environmental dangers in the rooms such as exploding barrels and chests which only hurt monsters to moving spike blocks and traps which hurt everything. Smart players can lure monsters into traps but those moving spike blocks are way overpowered and monsters aren't smart enough to avoid them leading me clearing rooms without doing anything. It would be cool if there were more environmental dangers that the player could use or some way of pushing monsters away to clear space for yourself making it feel like I'm actually doing something as opposed to winning without even realising it.

I think these issue hurt the game and with a bit more polish it would have been really good. I wouldn't pay US$10 but if it's around $2 or $3 or maybe bundled with other games I would certainly consider it. Otherwise I would stick with other freeware arena shooters which offer just as fun gameplay and even more gamemodes.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Dr Blob's Organism Review

Dr Blob's Organism is a shooter with a twist. Instead of controlling a spaceship on a screen, you control lasers around a petri dish and fire inward trying to prevent a blob from escaping the petri dish. It's initially quite fun but the novelty of shooting in a petri dish wears off there really isn't enough variety in powerups, graphics or enemies to push you to play. There are freeware games with more varied gameplay.

A smooth shooter but it feels below average in some way. Recommended to try out for the funky music and novel gameplay but thankfully you no longer have to pay for it.