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 Not an RPG, but Totally Cool: Seiklus

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vaudy
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PostSubject: Not an RPG, but Totally Cool: Seiklus   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:38 am

Blame the title on the ten character minimum for topic titles. I know I intended to only review RPG's here, and nothing in this game is relevant to what we're doing, but it's a game I love and periodically return to, and I thought I'd give it a plug.

Website: http://autofish.net/clysm/art/video_games/seiklus/
Game Engine: Game Maker

Seiklus is a freeware platformer I first discovered on Home of the Underdogs (I'd link to it, but the original site is gone, and there are three different revivals of it, all in various stages of development.) This game apparently polarizes people; on one of his webpages, the developer quotes several bad reviews of Seiklus. I get the feeling he thinks it's funny. Anyway, the premise of the game is you are a little dude who has been separated from your little girlfriend by an asteroid, or something, and you have to find your way back to her (hey, there are worse premises. A plumber rescuing a princess, anyone?).

The focus of this game is on exploration ("seiklus" is an Estonian word that means "adventure"), and therefore, Seiklus has one very unique feature: you don't die. There are no monsters, no hit points, no battle . . . you get the idea. There are, however, little colored fuzzy things that you must collect. There are also "medallions" that you collect, some of which have no apparent purpose, while others are very useful, indeed (my favorite is the one that makes a fish follow you around in the water. Useless, but cute, much like me). There are also some things that will set you back a bit, and they can scare the crap out of you (well, startle you, really), but you still don't die.

Admittedly, there are places in this game that are very frustrating, and there are times when you will repeat areas for various reasons, and I sometimes don't know how much of that is the player, and how much the game. Very Happy But patience and persistence will be rewarded. Some areas are fairly straightforward, and some require a good deal of hand-eye coordination. There are a couple of puzzle-y things, but it's really more about exploring than puzzle solving at the end of the day.

The graphics are hand-drawn and very simple. The character you play as is, like I said, a little dude. A glorified stick figure, if you will. And yet it all works. It's quite charming, in it's own way. There a few graphical hiccups that I noticed on my new computer (some of the graphics, especially animations, displayed with a black box around them that wasn't there on my old machine), and I don't know if it's that my graphics card is meant for Windows XP, and I have 2000, or if this is one of those games that just works better on old machines than new. The music is chip music from various composers, because the developer admires chip music and wanted to introduce people to it. Some of it gets annoying, but there are some areas where it sets the atmosphere very nicely.

To sum up, if exploring is one of your favorite parts of playing a game, you should give this a try. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but it's very enjoyable for those of us who can appreciate it.
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WaveformDelta
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PostSubject: Hungry Flying Hippos   Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:43 pm

Having now gotten through the first credit scene, I can officially say this:

I (expletive deleted) hate the (expletive deleted) flying hippos!!

That is all.
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WaveformDelta
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PostSubject: Re: Not an RPG, but Totally Cool: Seiklus   Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:09 am

I found Seiklus to be the most refreshing game experience I've had in some time.

To be fair, I have a bent towards exploration games to begin with--I've even been known to play DOOM in "no monsters" mode just to enjoy exploring a new map unhindered. Use that as guide for how much you have in common with my own tastes.

But Seiklus has a very pure feeling to it. Partly it's to do with the language: after playing for a while you realize that, except for the load/save screens and the ending credits this is a game with no text at all. Not even the 1-ups or map screen have any words. How many games communicate entirely by pictures alone?

Partly it's to do with the very limited controls: you've got a direction pad (left, right, jump and crouch) and, eventually, a 'warp' button. And that's it. You have to go back to the Atari days to find something so spare--this game is nothing but you and your wits.

But I think most of the game's unique feel comes from the graphics: nothing else looks quite like this. It's nearly all flat spaces of color with just enough shading to give a hint of depth. What it looks like is a playable cartoon.

It has a few hiccups. As Vaudy mentioned, the chiptunes get a bit tiring after a while (although I've grown to love at least one of them). And some of the sections seem a little unbalanced: as I complained above, the 'hippo room' is especially frustrating.

But these are minor complaints; overall, this game is very rewarding for a few hours. It certainly won't appeal to everyone, but for many of us, Seiklus is a delight.
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