Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Deep Creatures

The full title for this platform adventure is Deep Creatures in Mayan Caves, but if that's too hard to remember, you can also call it "Another Shit Logic Collision Game."

I have something of a history with Logic Collision Games. They make very pretty games that I ultimately hate and rant about. Deep Creatures is no different - it looks as nice as any 2D platform game on the internet, but it was clearly programmed by a hermetic Russian who hates everyone.

I'm adding the introduction simply to point out that this game is poor from the start. I hate to be a Grammar Nazi (actually, that's a lie) and for all I know English may not be the developers' first language, but it doesn't take long to proofread stuff, guys, and a little effort goes a long way.

ROAR!! I may as well note that you play a character called Crawler, which I found strange since not once in the short time I spent with him did Crawler actually crawl. Inappropriate names aside, I wonder about Crawler's mental wellbeing when he lives in an active volcano and uses treasure as a pillow, but let's move on to the actual game.

As I previously noted, Logic Collision games always look great, and Deep Creatures is no exception. OK, so it's all greens and browns, but they're nice greens and browns. And besides, you're in a jungle - what do you expect? Naturally, there are Mayan caves at some point, but I never saw them for the simple reason that this game is hard as hell.

Here I am getting a warthog tusk up the ass. If I wanted to get gangbanged by jungle creatures I'd... actually, I would never want that.

But why are there so many of them? At any time the screen can be full of these bastards, and if they're on both sides of you you're pretty screwed.

The enemies usually jump out of the background, which I'll admit was a lot more interesting than the usual "walk back and forth across this platform until the hero jumps on you" approach so many computer game bad guys take. Of course, this is only cool for as long as it takes you to realise you're often standing on the most indefensible spot in the level when those warthogs come leaping out at you.

So, there are hundreds of them, and they leap at you when you're at your most vulnerable - what else can the developers do to make the first level just that little bit harder? How about making sure you have no idea how many times you have to hit them in order to kill the buggers? Or maybe they could not let you know how hurt you are (like it matters)? This information and more is kept from you, leaving you to constantly jump and kick while the ten lives you started with get cut down to four.

And just so we're clear - that was Level 1.

The only thing more annoying than an enemy that takes forever to kill is an an enemy that you can't kill. The only thing more annoying than that is an enemy you can't kill bumping you off ledges and into pungee pits.

The game has the annoying tendency of stopping you from moving further until you've either killed or dodged all the animals. Not only are you prevented from making a quick getaway, you can't beat a hasty retreat. All you can do is move forward, high kicking wave after wave of jungle creatures and hoping you don't get knocked off the platforms and into oblivion.

Level design isn't all that bad, though the order in which you face enemies is slightly strange. Take this point near the end of Level 3, I believe. You face off against two giant warthogs and several smaller ones. With the jungle creatures dispatched, you head forward towards the exit...

...Only to get cut off by more of the little bastards. It's something of an anticlimax, considering the fight I've just been through, and on top of that it cost me yet another life.

But take a wild guess as to what little creature added that last straw to my straining back?

That's right - little birds. They're not even hard to kill - one kick and they're gone. What pisses me off is how they appear from out of nowhere - or more accurately, the top of the screen, which is usually no more than an inch or two from Crawler's head.

With only one attack to your name, a kick, you have to be situated above a bad guy to kill him. So you see what the problem is here. You're required to jump through the birds, taking damage all the way, and hope that you stamp their skulls on the way down. Well that's just great.

Pardon the pun, but Deep Creatures is a case of too much collision and not enough logic. What we have here is a platform game that could be great, but the learning curve is so steep that it's practically a vertical line. Lives are too easily lost and not replenished with nearly enough regularity, and the constant barrage of enemies is fun at first but ultimately draining. The fact that there isn't a Pause button doesn't help matters.

So it seems like the status quo remains. Logic Collisions make another great-looking game, and I call it for the polished turd that it is. Some things never change.

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