In between various other projects I have on the go at the moment (including those small things... my exams...), I have been playing a bit of the fairly new Indie Game AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome by Dejobaan Games and Owlchemy Labs.
The premise of the game is fairly simple. You start off at a high point on a "map" of sorts. You then jump of the high point. Using, what I kind of hope is a form of one of those Human-Flying-Squirrel costumes, you then have to thread your way through the obstacles in your path to reach the bottom. And then, just before you crash into the bottom and push all your bones out through your skull, you open a parachute (or in this case a sort of "helicopter-wings" thing which you have in your backpack... or wherever...) coming to a safe landing.
The idea is to gain points while managing this whole jump and those can be earned in a number of ways: hitting point "plates", sticking close to structures (called "hugging" them), weaving around so that you come in close contact with lots of structures (called "kissing" them) and you can interact with some buildings or some people you pass on the way down to get extra points. You also get points for stunts and for landing in specific areas. All in all the idea is that you gain the most points for being the most daring you can without actually landing on a building (and having your bones leave through your skull...). So the closer you come to dying and having to start again usually results in you earning more points.
And that's the game. It is a fairly simple premise. But I mean what an idea! Moving at a high speed where you can't slow down and you have to avoid obstacles along the way! That's such a cool idea! I bet everyone will copy it now!
So yeah, as a gameplay mechanic it's really not that original, even the whole "daredevil" aspect I think has been done before. So really there's no points to be won for originality here... At all... Ever...
Another irritation I had is the game's bloody name. The number of A's in the name mean that searching for it online is such a pain in the neck because, for example, searching "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! for the Awesome" gives entirely different search results. Good news is that you can search "A for the Awesome" and that WILL produce results... But it's still a nuisance if you ask me...
A final niggle I had with the game is the way you make progress through it. You gain Stars by earning a specific number of points on a course/map (1 to 5 stars) and earning Stars gives you a certain number of points (called, for some unknown reason, "Teeth"). You then use these Teeth to purchase the next maps and courses. This means that if you haven't done well enough on enough of the maps you have played you can't progress in the game. As a system it has been done before and it's to prevent those with lower levels of skill reaching the hardest maps until they have practiced enough to be able to. The problem is that for people like me that means that unless I put a lot more time into the game than I am willing then I will never see the final levels. I just wish they harder levels would open up after you complete a certain course... I'd still know I was shit by the fact that I would have no or one star on every one of the harder courses...
You see in a game like this with such basic gameplay you need new levels and courses in order for it to stay fresh and entertaining. A few times I wasn't able to progress to harder levels (as I didn't have enough "Teeth") and I very quickly became bored of trying to perfect the levels I had already done. I did push on most of the time... but I just feel that in this type of game this is the wrong sort of progression system.
I have been complaining a bit, but that's because I like to get my complaints out the way first. Because I do have to say that the game is actually a lot of fun. The physics of falling and weaving around is pretty fantastically well done and the difficulty of the levels often leads to some rather adrenaline fuelled moments that I love in video games, where you are drawn in and you almost chant to yourself "Almost there, almost there come on! Comeoncomeoncomeon!!". Also it's worth pointing out that the points system is actually pretty nifty and works well. It definitely makes the game challenging but sometimes those moments when you pull it you feel like you've achieved something!
It also has to be said that the game actually looks great as well! And I don't just mean "good for an Indie Game" I mean it actually looks pretty damn awesome! The clue there is in the name... It may not be realistic but it's fucking crazy and cool and looks brilliant!
I also actually like the music in the game. It's not something I say that often but I did feel that the few music tracks in the game perfectly fit the atmosphere and tied in perfectly. It never became overwhelming or annoying and it usually struck me as actually pretty cool music as well!
So, the game is worth £6.99 on Steam and I do think there is probably about 8 or so hours worth of gameplay in it. So you do get a decent deal for your money. It looks great and is good fun to play, which is actually the important things, so my niggles earlier don't impact THAt much on the fact that I actually did like the game and enjoy my time playing it.