By Kieron Gillen on August 6th, 2009 at 9:50 am.
Don’t be deceived by the screenshot. Creeper World is the most apocalyptic game I’ve played in ages. Hell, even Defcon’s millions pales before the 300 Billion which gets offed in the opening moments of this Tower-Defence-esque indie RTS. The plot explains all: basically, evil goo appears in the far future, killing everyone on humanity’s enormous empire. Less than 50,000 are left, who must now make their way across the universe while (er) shooting goo. It’s Battlestar Galactica meets The Blob. And, despite me having spent all yesterday downloading SFIV, this morning it’s kept me away from the joy of Chun-li’s chunky-thighs. The five level demo here, but some more thoughts and a video follow…
Each level – at least in the demo – takes the same rough format. There’s a landscape. Goo comes from set places, at a steady rate. It spreads across the landscape, filling troughs and valleys and being diverted by peaks. In the map, you have a variety of powery-thingies, all of which have to be connected to your base network to create the level exit. In other words, the job is to make a base which can both power and build the defenses requires to hold back the goo so you can finish your actual task. For example, Blasters are good for dealing with goo as it moves across the plains, while the slower-firing Mortars are best for deep pools the goo have ran into. What I like best about the game is how the organic-flow of your opponent is mirrored in the mycelial-growth of your base structure. The shape of both your base and your mindless-opposition’s flow is as much a product of the landscape as one-another, with you creating thin connecting strips between the large, thick clusters either required for defence (Chokepoints, high ground near the flow’s path) and production (the wide plains full of generators).
Here’s it in action. As you can see, functional is the word – though to be fair, it uses its functionality with style, and it’s a good example of where a game’s fiction absolutely helps with the impact of the game.
My only real reservations on the game are the scope of the demo itself. Not its size – it’s a good half an hour’s worth of game here, at least – but because while it explains the concept, doesn’t exactly hint at the full options. There’s a whole lot of spaces for other guns and similar devices in the interface, and it’d be good to have an idea how the strategy would develop. There’s online high score tables, plus – in the full version – 20 Story missions, 25 conquest missions and 10 Special Ops missions. Which will cost you twenty earth dollars.
I liked the demo a lot. The only question is why, if your city is able to fly through the portal to leave each level, why you don’t just fly over the goop and side-step the whole game?
(Because that’d be boring – Mr Game Designer)