In an indie marketplace stuffed to the brim with twin stick shooters and baby making simulators (no, not that kind) Blocks Indie: A Devilishly Difficult Delivery game shines in its uniqueness and simplicity. The first game out of Darkwind Media takes a simple concept and stretches it to its absolute limit, including polish its price point. At the same time, Blocks Indie is also a game that shows the potential pitfalls of attempting an experimental game mechanics. What results is an interesting case study in both the best and worst elements of indie games.
Blocks has one of the simplest concepts this side of a twin stick shooter: deliver a block to its location using a rocket-powered sled. Unsurprisingly though,there’s a catch. In spite of your platform having two thrusters, you can't fire them both at once, you must fire them one at a time.
Although this sounds like a small change, it actually radically alters gameplay. Movement is no longer just an exercise in moving in a straight line; it is an exercise in touch and balance. It’s in these fine movements that Block’s Indie really struts it stuff. Darkwind has crafted a control scheme that, when complimented by a near perfect physics engine, allows you to control your ship with pinpoint accuracy.
That isn’t to say that this indie title is an easy game. It’s certainly not. Instead, it is both instantly accessible and continually challenging. While the impressive control scheme creates the former, the level design allows. Even though Darkwind Media actually gave itself relatively few tools to work with , but they continually build on each-other to create continually more interesting and taxing levels. At the same time, the difficulty is such that you never feel as if a task is impossible, giving Blocks a “one more try” addictive quality.
Unfortunately you can’t fully experience the levels because the camera is too close. What results are numerous situations where an obstacle springs up before you have time to prepare and chart your path. These problems are partially alleviated by the ability to survey the map before selecting it, but this view isn’t detailed enough to significantly help your progress and you’ll regularly fall back on trial and error.
The camera is a minor annoyance though; the game’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel like a full release. It feels like an exceptionally well executed simple mechanic that needs a more robust framework to succeed. Were Blocks an iPhone app (which it will be in Spring) that would be totally acceptable, but when its 240 MSP competition includes Cthulu Saves The World and Corrupted, players have the right to expect a little more.
That isn’t to say that this delivery game isn’t worth your time. If you have a spare 240 MSP to your name and are a fan of unique game mechanics then by all means pick up Blocks, you’ll love all of the brief time you spend with it. However, if you’re looking for a complete experience you’re best served elsewhere; Darkwind’s creation doesn’t have quite enough depth to be in the highest echelons of the Indie Marketplace
[Blocks Indie]-240 MSP