First Looks// Flockers

Posted 31 Mar 2014 15:18 by
Team17, the company that has built its name largely off the back of the hugely successful Worms, has now set about making a brand new game in the form of Flockers. It was being shown for the first time to the public at ECX-Rezzed 2014 and I spent some time with it to discover that it's really not that 'new', so to speak. If anything, it's bringing back a genre that has been long since forgotten.

The game requires the player to guide sheep across a perilous landscape that is filled with devices that will slice, dice and impale any unsuspecting ovis aries. As these docile creatures march from right to left across the screen the player must use the limited resources they have available to keep them alive. The resources in question take the form of special sheep powers such as jumping, flying and exploding.

These powers are only provided once a sheep passes through a glowing block that is placed strategically in a level, just before the player actually needs to use it. Timing is everything in Flockers, as if you leave things too late the vast majority of the bleating creatures will be eviscerated via a well-timed saw/axe/falling weight.

Visually the game is a delight, with well-drawn landscapes and animated sheep that, when reduced to giblets, emit a satisfying crunch/splat sound. The spot effects and music also seem to be very polished, leading me to conclude that the remaining months of development are focused on level design and balancing. That's something Flockers is very much in need of based on the time I had with it.

Granted, only three levels were being offered up for play, but I found all of them to be very challenging to the point of actually being unfair in many regards. For example, there was a section of a level with a falling weight. As it appeared I was advised by the game to time the progression of the sheep to prevent them from being squashed. The problem was, however, that I had no means to alter the rate at which the sheep moved. This forced me to watch hopelessly as a giant weight hurtled itself into a bunch of baying creatures as they innocently marched across a bridge.

If any of this sounds familiar to you then you must remember Lemmings. This game threatened to become Psygnosis's very own Worms until they saw the light and killed it off in 2000 with the release of Lemmings Revolution. It too had little creatures that had to be guided across landscapes, none of whom had any sense of self preservation. So the question is, do we need to see the return of this type of game after it has been absent for 14 years? Well, after spending some frustrating moments with Flockers, I'm not so sure.
Companies:
Games: Flockers

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