Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Doodles Are Bugged! Review


Here's how the thought process went for me. "Oh that's a stupid name for game." "Weird box art. What the hell is that thing?" "Wait that screenshot looks interesting." "Hmmm, haven't seen anything like this on XBLIG." "Only 80MP...." "Oh wait the developer has reached out to me! I like him more already!"

5 hours of playtime later, I finally turned the corner and realized what a beautiful little game this is. Actually, it's not "little" at all, but the bugs are tiny and the price tag is low, so it seems fitting. In terms of game hours and levels to conquer, this game is rather big.

Here's some things I liked right off the bat. The concept is clever. I believe that I can safely say that never before have you helped small bugs escape a "doodle" by drawing lines/structures with a pen. The humorous sound effects and zany plot/story are cutely captivating. The doodle artwork follows suit, offering a colorful and sometimes bizarre world to play in.

What took some time to grow on me was the primary game mechanic of drawing the lines to guide the bugs. In the beginning it felt a bit inaccurate and unpredictable as to how the bugs would respond to my drawings - in some cases a couple extra pixels of ink or a slightly steeper curve would have tragic unintended consequences for my bugs.

Thankfully, the tutorials helped shine some light on the best ways to guide the bugs and some patience/practice pays off well too. Simple tricks like drawing the path in reverse helps avoid the frantic process of trying to keep up with your bugs as they march happily to their doom. Imagining the path backwards, then opening the floodgates seems to be the better route. Should your plan fail, lessons learned, and you can easily restart the level.

By about level 5 or so you'll notice that the difficulty starts to amp up, and true puzzle lovers will get hooked to the challenge. Meanwhile, people with short tempers might find themselves throwing a controller. Adding to the strategy is the fact that your pen has finite ink, so budgeting that resource (and reclaiming ink off the page when you no longer need it) becomes absolutely necessary. In fact, it seems as though level 8 has already become a bit notorious as the "doodle that stumps." It took me over an hour, so I won't be on those leaderboards any time soon!

Some may find the gameplay pace a little slow or too challenging, but those people have endless numbers of zombies to kill elsewhere. :) I recommend this one for anyone looking for polished brainteaser in a wonderfully conceived artistic package.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Getting Better

Just a quick note to point out that there are finally some solid forums dedicated to XBLIG. Head over there to vote on your favorite games, uncover hidden gems, and talk indie. Much props to the folks who put this together - anyone who's ever tried running a forum knows it's not as easy you'd think! (XBLIG Forums!)