Flockers Review - Games Weekly

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flockers Review

Team 17, the developers best known for the long lived Worms franchise was also responsible for the well-received last installment of the equally long lived Lemmings franchise.

They are also responsible for Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust but we won’t hold it against them (anymore). The developer’s latest game melds elements of Worms and Lemmings to deliver a fiendishly difficult yet still approachable and appealing puzzle adventure game that will have you cheering and pulling your hair out in equal measure.

Like Lemmings, the basic premise of Flockers sees players trying to guide a herd of suicidal sheep through the horrifying death traps of what appears to be a Worms Super Sheep factory. The sheep are mindless creatures, simply walking in whichever direction they are facing until they either meet their death or an obstacle that causes them to turn around and head the other way. Dotted throughout the increasingly complex and at times difficult to decipher Rube Goldberg-esque levels are crates
that grant a limited number of special abilities, allowing the sheep to jump gaps, fly up vertical surfaces or explode to clear blockages. There are also abilities that allow the player to stack sheep in various Tetris-like formations to create steps or blocks to give the sheep access to new areas or to stop them from marching their way to an inevitably gory death.
“many of the pictograms are so obtuse that they are as helpful as not having any hints at all”
The skills and uses of said skills are illustrated with little pictograms in the early stages to give the player some idea as to what is needed to complete a challenge, but many of the pictograms are so obtuse they are as helpful as not having any hints at all, effectively throwing the player straight into the deep end. That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if some of the uses of skills weren’t more than a little obtuse. Case in point placing an exploding sheep at the bottom of a formation fires the remaining sheep in the direction they are placed in the formation, allowing them to hit switches on roofs or access distant platforms. There is a pictogram that supposedly illustrates this ability but it’s clear as mud, leading to some serious trial and error. Unfortunately this trial and error approach ends up being way too common it almost feels like the devs are being lazy by not properly conveying how
the game works, instead leaving them to decipher what was going through Team 17’s hivemind when it came up with the image .

The cutesy graphics of Flockers seriously belie the difficulty of the puzzles. The first 10 or so don’t pose too much of a challenge, but the 50 odd remaining puzzles can pose a real brain strain. As soon as two sheep spawners appear things start getting difficult. Then gravity inverters appear, then timed switches that need to be activated simultaneously, then it gets harder again. Once you have a handle on how abilities can be used the puzzles may be brutal, but they’re rarely unfair. The whole game is an uphill struggle, but one that is definitely worth the time if you have the patience and mental fortitude.


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