I’ve got a two-fer from Might & Delight. Coming off Pid and Shelter I got pretty much what I was expecting: strong presentation wrapped around fairly awful games.
Let’s start with The Blue Flamingo.
“Euroshmup” is a derogatory term for good reason, but Blue Flamingo seems to wear it with pride (no, I don’t care why Tyrian 2000 is your favourite ever.) The warning signs are all here: 3D graphics? They’re digitized models (or “Sweded”, this being a Stockholm-based company) but check. Health bar? Check. Upgrade shop? Check. Bullet sponge enemies? Check. Gigantic player hit box? Check. Oh, and the soundtrack is elevator muzac. (Compare)
The scoring system is as rudimentary as it gets, and I thought it was more exciting in Galaga. Shoot every enemy in a wave, get a coin. Enemies generally fly in, hover around the top of the screen, shoot off a bullet or two, and then divebomb towards the bottom. Almost all of my deaths were trying to intercept these kamikazes to get the coins to appear. When you collect coins you get 100 points, these points also doubling as your currency at the end of the round. Therefore, if you want to maximize your score, the optimal move is to play in the most boring way possible, without buying any upgrades. I don’t understand why anyone would design a game this way.
Even if you’re some kind of game journalist and not playing for score, I still can’t find any reason to keep playing. There’s about three enemy types, zero bosses, and every single aspect just feels “off”. At least we can enjoy the cool behind-the-scenes videos they made.
This one reminds me a bit of Amanita Design’s games. Walk around, click on things, puzzles are fairly easy and solvable if you keep clicking. Strong art direction again. You play a sleepy little cyclops tasked with delivering letters to all his shaman friends; you know their type, always eager to tell you about cool drugs from their latest
Shulgin McKenna book. Deliver the letter and you’re treated to a quick trip to the Black Lodge and a little cutscene. I enjoyed these segments enough to want to see them all, particularly the sound design, but I guess my frustration here stems from the game’s lack of frustration. I clicked through the game in a little over an hour and it never really felt like I was doing anything; most screens have 3-4 interactive objects and eventually something will react in a way that lets you progress. I suppose it’s better than being stuck? Imagine biting into a Ferrero Rocher and discovering it to be hollow, that’s pretty much the feeling the game left me with.