Wednesday, October 12, 2011

-REVIEW: Demolition, Inc.-
a puzzley kaboom

Demolition, Inc
Developer: Zero Scale Development
Release: $9.99 (PC, Steam)

Aliens care more about this planet than you do! Also, they care more about this planet than they do you

The world is ending. We all know it. And not because some arbitrary timeline is ending or some radicalist movement’s vengeful god is coming to venge himself upon his believers (and everyone else). The world is ending because omnipotent, tree-loving aliens have decided that we, the apparent (and oblivious) stewards of this little green planet, are failing miserably at our job. And the form of omnipotence that this tree-hugging world-destroying alien coalition of aliens wields is this: unlimited amounts of money.

And they have decided to pay Mike the Demolition guy to wipe us all out.
Okay, so, maybe you pay a little of it back once in awhile.
Demolition, Inc. puts you in the genericized slug-alien boots of Mike the Demolition guy and tasks you with leveling even more genericized urban areas so that they can be spontaneously repopulated by trees and shrubbery. Mike pilots the standard telekinetic UFO, but it curiously lacks the standard human-sucking element. It’s likely that this particular feature was left out of his model because of the other option installed on this particular model: the ability to cause mass amounts of indirect destruction. Mike shoots oil clouds, slippery goo piles, exploding cows, and even earthquake-inducing (and aptly named) “earthquake bombs” in his efforts to destroy earthly overpopulated urbanity.
What they don't tell you is that Debris IS Coins in alienspeak. They also love redundancy.
It all sounds great (and looks great too), but there are some little hiccups that bothered me and in turn will likely bother you if you decide to purchase this quirky little title. Firstly, UI navigation is rather bland (which is far from a negative in itself) and indistinct. This translates into a possibly dichotomizing feature where the screen is relatively uncluttered, but also devoid of information, whilst upon entering into the item select menu the entire game pauses and provides you with a wealth of information (which you will never need again once you’ve discovered what the items do).
This may very well be the Army arriving too.
Furthermore: the “Campaign” level design forces a decidedly unnecessary puzzley feel upon a game that would be much better served with a more frenetic and chaotic pace. This unfortunate design decision is amplified by the fact that your first move to mayhem triggers an inescapable, inevitable, immutable countdown timer to when the “army” arrives (which in fact never arrives, unless the army is a giant block of letters which spells “MISSION FAILED”), which makes all of your destruction decisions that much more crucial, since you’re always given a limited amount of tools with which to complete the level. Now, these problems aren’t terrible largely because there’s the awesome “Rampage” mode which lifts all of these arbitrary embargos thereby unleashing the game’s true potential. But, this is again (unfortunately) balanced out by the fact that you have to slog your way through the Campaign to unlock the items for use in Rampage.
The camera is zoomable, but you wouldn't know it from these shots. I'm a terrible reviewer.
This characteristic see-sawing of clever features vs. poor design decisions plagues nearly all indie releases, but in Demolition, Inc.’s case, the see is a bit more saw, and thus a bit more worth your time than the average game. There was one game-stopping bug I encountered, but the speed of loading and the ease of menu navigation made it negligible (and rather easy to be good-humored about it). I say if you’re looking for a quick diversion from the more serious, committal games that now populate the indie market, Demolition Inc. is certainly worth one.