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Reviews for "Labyrinth: SoS"

Alright, I guess...

But I didn't feel like playing it again after dying in level 5... hmm...

Anyway, nice game. But not too nice.

meh frirst the controls are better if they are wasd and if you die in the first boss you cant continue

Okay.. I'm going to be hated for this opinion, but I'm gonna be honest with you. This is not a good game.

Let me start with the positives. It has a solid framework, the art looks great and animates fantastically, the music is decent (JUST decent - not amazing, it does get old), and it overall has the potential to be a great game. Unfortunately, the actual GAME part is where things fall apart.

This is an extremely shallow game. You can 'finish' it in 5 minutes, get all the power ups in about 10, and have literally nothing that can challenge you anymore. Despite this, the designer expects you to play on for a long time, because apparently things get much more challenging, and all of these overpowered upgrades they give you actually become necessary rather than overkill. The problem with this lies in the way the game is designed. The levels are random, the enemies are pitifully weak, and they give you all of your overpowered gear immediately. In every possible way, this game is designed to be a short, shallow, pick up and play once kind of deal - and yet it requires much more dedication and playtime than that to 'truly experience it'. As a designer, your job is to build the game around its strengths, not force-feed unnecessary features and padding into it. Random level layouts do NOT make a game stay interesting without interesting, deep mechanics to go along with it.

Worsening this issue is the difficulty level, which is nonexistent. There is no challenge to this game after the first round, once you've become way more overpowered than you need to be at that point. This is where the randomized levels really show their failure. Without an intentionally designed course, there is no sense of progression. You start the game, and you are almost immediately bombarded with powerups; from super jumping, to rockets, gliding, wall climbing, and even the ability to break the blocks creating the world around you, there are so many things you're given access to right off the bat. The game throws EVERYTHING it has at you all at once, and then after that it feels empty and meaningless. There's nothing to entice a player to keep going, once they realize they're just going to keep getting the same powerups over and over. Hell, the powerups don't even stack. They could become more powerful if you collected more than one, at least then there would be SOME sense of progression, but there isn't. You immediately become overpowered and it takes several levels of boring, unchallenging tedium for the game to catch up with you.

Oh, but let's not forget the bandage design to keep you challenged. Acid. The acid in this game is one of the best examples of this game's worst flaws. No matter how powerful you are, how much you can decimate everything else, acid will always kill you in one hit. You can have the most powerful armor and full health, and barely dipping your toe in it means your adventure is over. I see a lot of the designer defending this decision, saying you're supposed to 'tread carefully,' but this is nothing but a bandage over a deep flesh wound. The problem is how contradictory the entire driving force behind the acid is. Here you have a game that immediately powers you up to insane levels, making you deadlier than anything you could possibly come up against, and getting you used to being able to jump around and fear nothing. Then all of a sudden you fall into a pit of acid you didn't see because the camera wasn't showing it, and just like that, it's over. This is not a failure of the player, for not being careful enough - this is a failure of the designer, for trying to input two opposing forces at once and assuming it will work out well. Spoiler alert: it doesn't.

Some of the powerups only exacerbate this issue, in particular the Super Jump Boots. I noticed in the author's responses that he even admitted not to getting those boots in his own playthroughs; so then, why, may I ask, do they even exist? Are they a punishment to the player for being too hasty to pick up something labeled as a powerup? This goes back to the opposing forces idealism in place with the acid. These boxes give you wonderful powerups that make you stronger, and then you find a super jump power. Great, you would think. Now I can jump higher and get around better. On the surface, it's a useful addition to your arsenal that should make everything easier, but it just doesn't, and the player won't figure that out until well after they pick it up. Chalking it up to the 'learning curve' to determine which powerups are best is another failure of design. The game doesn't have the depth to warrant a second playthrough, and yet it requires one to avoid its numerous design pitfalls. Again, it's a bandaid, and not a particularly effective one.

I'm not sure if the author realizes it or not, but the randomization in level design and powerups truly is what is holding this game back. When a game uses randomness, it's supposed to use it in a smart way - TRUE randomness breeds chaos, which is what this game does. Intelligent randomness still follows a path of progression, something that makes the player feel like they're accomplishing something, but prevents the game from becoming predictable. The irony in this is that the randomness applied to this game forgoes the positive effects of randomization and only takes the negative ones. The game is immediately predictable from the moment you play it; there's nothing that's ever surprising about its design. Blocks all seem practically random, and soon they become nothing but a nuisance as you get the ability to break through the world at your will. At the same time, the randomness prevents a natural sense of progression - in one game, you might start out with super jump boots and gliding, and only later find double jumping and wall climbing. The problem is, the player gets used to the abilities they start with (super jump, glide) and these are all they need to get around. But why should one ignore new powerups? So when double jumping and wall climbing are found, the player will naturally collect them, only to find out very quickly that they throw off every bit of control the player has grown accustomed to. No longer can you press jump in short bursts to slow your descent with glides; instead, you'll rocket back into the sky with another jump. You'll constantly find yourself attaching to walls you didn't want to grab, and it's not like you need them to get up higher - you already have super jumping. Abilities should COMPLIMENT a player's loadout - not harass them because they didn't realize picking up the new powerup would screw them over.

In my opinion, the designer of this game is expecting more out of their players than they're willing to give them. Don't like a powerup? Well, learn what it is and don't pick it up again. Don't like that acid kills you instantly? Well, stop using all these abilities we gave you to get around fast, instead you should go around slowly to prevent falling to your death.

Every element of this game's design is contradictory at best, game-breaking at worst. The random generation of levels and powerups pushes the game toward a 'short, single playthrough' type of game, while the learning curve of which powerups to get and how to avoid acid shove it in the other direction. With these kinds of opposing forces acting at the same time, it's only a matter of time before the train derails.

There are many points I haven't even touched on, such as how the game still gives you the lesser helmets after you pick up better ones, and allows you to literally downgrade yourself by picking them up, or how super jump boots bring you dangerously close to falling far enough to take falling damage, but I think my point has been made.

Designer; my question to you is a simple one, but one that lies at the very core of intelligent game design: Why?

Why should I care enough to play your game for more than 5 minutes, when I can see all the content it has to offer in that time period? Why should I take time out of my day to play this game? Do not mistake these questions for arrogance - they are simply questions that must be answered before a game can be considered complete.

Unfortunately, this game is anything but that. Potential abounds, and every single bit of it falls disappointingly short of greatness. I hope to see all of these ideas better utilized in a sequel or an update of some sort, but for now, this game isn't worthy of anything more than 2/5. There are simply too many opposing ideals and bandaids in place for truly good game design.

PestoForce responds:

I think you made a lot of good points, though maybe they could have been more succinct :-P

This game was largely experimental, and definitely has flaws. That's one of the reasons I want to make a sequel, because, like you say, the concept has lots of potential, and with some tweaks I think it could be great! The progression issue is the main thing I have lots of ideas about. You're right, randomness is NOT ENOUGH!

Thanks for taking the time to review it in-depth!

wow I like the game a lot like for 5 stars

BUT when u die (fall in acid for example) you can start from level 1??? wdf

PestoForce responds:

That's the name of the game when it comes to roguelikes!

The game itself is fine, but the disadvantage is that the levels are generated randomly and sometimes are impossible to complete.

PestoForce responds:

No level should be impossible...