Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doodle God

Like many people I picked up Peter Molyneux's literal God sim Black & White. The concept of being a deity - choosing whether I wanted people to worship me out of love, respect or fear; raising and training a monster to carry out my godly duties and occasionally eat someone - really piqued my interest. After years of Sim City allowing you to just be mayor, here was a game that allowed you to be the ultimate divine being!

Which was great, except it eventually got a little boring. You see, being a god in Black & White was a lot like being the mayor in Sim City. You did an awful lot of resource gathering and general day to day problem solving, interspersed with the odd monster battle or, if you were bored, people throwing (which, of course, you couldn't really do if you wanted to be a nice god - as if anyone cared about that.) I never played the second game because it apparently took all the things that were fun about the first one and made them kind of suck, but my memories of Black & White remain a few hours of fun, then an ever increasing urge to do something less godly and more fun. I will say, however, that it makes Old Testament God's regular mood swings a lot more understandable. You'd raze a city to the ground too if Geoff from Crop Gathering kept bugging you about the annual reports.

Anyway, this week's game puts you back into the position of god without having to worry about all that administrative stuff. Doodle God simply focuses on the fun part of being the Creator - namely, creating stuff. It's an intriguing little puzzle game that asks you to make a myriad of items by mixing and matching different elements. Starting with earth, wind, fire and water, the goal is to create 115 brand new elements (though the word is used loosely - I don't remember seeing "tree" on the periodic table."

It's a disarmingly simple concept that's easy enough to get sucked into but tricky enough to keep you guessing as you mix up different elements, branching out from the original four to develop more advanced items.

The graphics aren't much to write home about, but then a game like this doesn't really call for anything flashy. Instead, things are kept clear and simple: two columns of elements, pick one from each column and watch them smash together to make something new. Most of the early elements are pretty obvious, but as things get more complicated the combinations become trickier to discern.

Fortunately, you can ask for a hint every now and again that helps point you in the right direction. It's definitely needed, as is some serious lateral thinking. It allows for a nice mental workout, but not one that will leave you screaming at your monitor.

All in all, Doodle God is an intriguing little puzzle game that your Creationist cousin will love. Little touches like the inclusion of a quote by famous figures make for a classy title, and the ability to download the game as an App means you can create the Universe on the move. A wonderful little game.


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