Saturday, October 1, 2011

-REVIEW: NyxQuest-
yet another greek puzzle game

Developer: Over the Top Games
Release: $9.99 (PC, Steam)

Inadvertent suicide is the solution to all your questing problems

Ideally, we like to think of businesses as driven by passion, idealism, desire for innovation, and possibly money. In reality, most businesses are initially run out of pure fear. Fear that their product won’t sell, fear that it won’t catch on and become “hip”, or fear that it simply isn’t very good so it needs to be dressed up in the most appealing way possible so as to disguise this mediocrity for as long as possible. So this kind of thing happens so often that even when businesses come around with an actual, decent idea that is truly innovative, passionate, and idealistic, they get advised by their forebears to “proceed with caution”, which is sad because when something like that comes around, it’s much better off just ignoring those stupid words of advice and kicking all that PR and business bullcrap to the curb.

Unfortunately, NyxQuest is only barely able to escape those dastardly clutches.
NyxQuest is novel. It’s also beautiful. But its novelty and beauty is lost in its preoccupation with accessibility, with acceptability. By placing this fascinating, fantastically executed mechanic in that yet-another-game-about-the-Greeks setting pitiably drags it down to an undeserving (and underserving) mediocrity. But that isn’t all. 
The level of difficulty is equally mediocre, bordering on childlike. With all the potential that a dual-interactive control scheme portends, it’s disappointing to see that it isn’t taken much farther than “leap from a tall-building” and “cross this burning sand”. Yet in a paradoxical turn, the boss battles are uncharacteristically difficult; asking for advanced maneuvers and twitchy responsivity.

The one saving grace that NyxQuest has is its gameplay. It’s very well done. It’s also refreshingly unique. It’s not completely new, but it is rare and rarely done well. It’s a puzzle platformer stuffed inside of a slide puzzle that you control with your mouse. 
So Nyxie here is like flying all around and having a good time and all the meanwhile there’s me (who’s also controlling Nyx, awesomely) using my mouse dragging and shooting and engaging in generally futzlery in such a way that Nyx cavorting (controlled by me!) proves wonderfully fruitful. When it works out, it’s great. Once in awhile, it gets a little wonky (but its complex, so I’ll forgive that) but luckily the game treats death rather nicely. Powerups don’t respawn, though.
The most likely scenario is that you picked this up in the last HiB, and haven’t yet had any reason to try it. I say, go for it. It’s an interesting little endeavor that does some old things differently and actually does some new things rather well. If you haven’t yet added it to your collection, I’d say do so as soon as it can fit into your “indie game” budget.