Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Indie Cred: Questling

Title: Questling
Developer: Flyboy
Platform: PC
Release: you can find it here!

This is like that game where you start off extremely confident, but then realize you’re in way over your head as hundreds of thousands of people begin to die because of your choices. What was the name of that game? Oh right, “World of Warcraft”

look! uni-corms

Indie games development is typically viewed as a kind of mythical creature, prancing about in an untouched field, pristine, beautiful, free. They frolic about without a care in the world; their voices are pure melody, with countenances like fine jewelry, and their poop is pure gold. They can do no wrong, because no wrong can reach them.

The truth is that indie games development is a cutthroat, sink-or-swim business with a highly competitive atmosphere. This is only intensified by the innumerable contests in which said indie devs can attempt to earn money in order to fund their cutthroat, sink-or-swim business model. One such contest is Ludum Dare, a highly respected, renowned, recurring game competition which shackles these indie devs (one of many, many shackles, I’m sure) once again to their machines with the imperative of creating a fully-playable game in a mere 48 hours.

Questling is one of these games.

sir, there are quemmlings in my soup

The premise of Questling is pretty simple: you control a band of adventurers as they adventure through a labyrinthine maze full of goblins, switches, doors, and spikes. The game is in the means by which you control them. In the spirit of the old Lemmings titles (and more recent circuit/programming-based games), you’re given 10 actions to do this.

A few of them are class specific (which means what it sounds like it means), which is a clever way of spicing things up. It avoids the common pitfall that I used to stumble into in Lemmings; namely, the creation of excess bombers and jumpers. Then again, I liked making Lemmings blow up, so I like to think of it more as a “feature.”

spitshine for dollar, dollar spitshine here
For a game produced in 48 hours, it’s not bad. But its limitations show through in the lack of levels and the rough assets. For one, there isn’t a huge variety of sprites or level design. Also, some rough coding (especially when it comes to opening and closing doors and allow monsters through) makes some of the levels an exercise in frustration. Luckily, all the levels are available to play from the very beginning, so you can hop around to your heart’s content.

Questling is a nice little diversion with an old school flavor. It’s puzzle-like sensibilities and straightforward gameplay make it easy to appreciate, but also to criticize. Despite its flaws though, it’s bug-free and runs great on low system requirements. As a healthy first offering, it’ll probably keep you occupied for at least an hour or two.

There is one glaring defect: there’s no way to get back to the level select menu apart from exiting the game entirely and starting over.  I’ll probably drop him a line and let him know.


P.S. Hit F1 during the game for some extra info!