Falling Blocks

I really, really wanted to like Falling Blocks.  It’s one of those “climb as high as you can get” games, but with a twist: it’s a first-person platformer.  You can choose between trying to climb as high as you can get for local-only point leaderboards, or in a mode where every block you touch gets painted.  Being the fan of creativity that I am, I anxiously plunged into this one.  Unfortunately, the intriguing concept was failed by some very poor execution, leaving Falling Blocks as a barely playable disaster of a game.

The idea is, jump from block to block, using power-ups to remove any that get in the way or warp to a spot that’s out of reach, all while trying to avoid being crushed as the blocks continuously fall.  Sounds fine in theory.  And then the problems start piling up.  First and perhaps the biggest of all: the falling blocks don’t cast shadows on the playfield.  This is a humongous oversight on the developer’s part.  Without them, the warning that you’re in danger of being squashed is minimal.  There is a caution sign if you’re directly under a falling one, but the problem is you’re on the move, hoping from block to block, and sometimes you move into the path of one that is right above you.  The caution sign might as well say “oh, see, now you’re going to be squished.”  You can look up I suppose, but when you’re under a time constraint, having to constantly move the camera up and down is going to eat up precious seconds.

Another major problem is you can’t actually see anything about your own character.  No feet, no shadow, or nothing to give you any sense of perspective.  This makes platforming particularly hard.  I’ve never really been a big fan of first-person platforming, with only the Halo series and Metroid Prime really being close to perfect.  Since accurate jumping often requires you to be as close to the edge of a block as possible, you’ll find yourself falling as often as successfully jumping.  Your character also moves at a breakneck speed and there’s no true analog controls here, so slipping off the block your standing on is an all to common occurrence.  To the game’s credit, the jumping does feel right, without being floaty or too light.  There’s also a double-jump, but I think it’s an unnecessary design choice.  Just having a default higher jump makes a lot more sense, especially since I only needed the normal jump 1 out of every 10 times.

Falling Blocks really was a good idea, but the finished product is a disaster.  It really pisses me off because I actually want to play a game like this.  And because the jumping actually does work, it proves that the developer is capable of much better than what was presented to me here.  Of any bad game that I’ve played as the Chick, this is the one I want to give a second chance to the most.  I think if the developer added in shadows, it would make a huge difference.  As it stands, Falling Blocks is a slow-paced, directionless, depth perception-lacking mess, sort of like my mom behind the wheel of a car.

Falling Blocks was developed by Multimac

80 Microsoft Points are raining blocks, hallelujah in the making of this review.

Falling Blocks was also covered by my friends at Gear-Fish, so have a look.

Thanks to Indies.onPause.org for the video.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

3 Responses to Falling Blocks

  1. Gingerlink says:

    This is still a vast improvement on the game that I peer reviewed about two months ago (which had about 6 fail reasons).

    Not least because in that version, the double jump took about 10 seconds to recharge (and as you pointed out, the single jump is all but useless).

    At least that would indicate that the developer is willing to learn from their mistakes and move it forwards.

  2. Pingback: 10/1 Indie Rundown | Gear-Fish Reviews

  3. Pingback: Indies in Due Time: September 9, 2011 « Indie Gamer Chick

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