Any game that starts out like Duke Nukem Forever, with the player in a toilet, makes me wary. SickBrick does that. But then two minutes later I’m in a Portal-ish test chamber, albeit a simple one where I’m just blasting clunky robots, and everything feels just that little bit better.
SickBrick’s not polished to Portal’s perfection, but I had a lot more fun with it than I did Duke. It does a good job of keeping everything moving along. While it starts off with a few basic battles against uninpired robots and turrets, things got a bit more interesting, and silly, as I progressed.
The testing facility likes to toss robots at your chainsaw and guns. Every room has something to kill. Although the action is rather standard and a bit shonky, it eventually gets combined with a few challenges, becoming a lot more vital and fun. Standing and shooting at the robots isn’t nearly as interesting as fighting them while you’re all being kept floating in the air by a room ful of fans.
It has aesthetic ambitions, but without the budget or engine to realise its potential. An early test chamber is criss-crossed with laser beams, that seem to be holding the detritus of an explosion frozen in their beams. A van and a wall are held in the air, but at odd angles, like they’ve been blasted by an invisible bomb. It’s an oddly pretty tableau, and then a few minutes later I’m fighting another room of enemy bots. They die in hilariously unspectacular collapses, their components falling apart in the same prescribed yet physics driven way. The spherical robots come apart like South Parks’ Canadians.
But it’s enough to keep plowing on, especially the gently mocking tone of the audio diaries and graffiti on the walls. It likes to keep reminding you that you’re playing a game, while throwing the occasional GLaDOS-ish invective out: “There’s a 42% chance that I will destroy your groin.”
It’s a troublesome recommendation. I enjoyed it, sure, but there are definite black marks. The engine is plasticy and the physics are shonky, but it’s got a little bit of wit and a silly sense of style and I really want a few more people to cast their eyes over it.
SickBrick’s £4.99 and out now. You can grab it from Desura.