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Tales from Space: About a Blob – Review

Tales from Space: About a Blob – Review
4.5
Game Name: Tales from Space: About a Blob
Platforms: PSN
Publisher(s): SCEA
Developer(s): Drinkbox Studios
Genre(s): Arcade
Release Date: February 2011
ESRB Rating: n/a

Independent Toronto-based video game developer, DrinkBox Studios has finally released their first original console game today, Tales from Space: About a Blob.

Available on the PlayStation Network as a digital download, About a Blob is a campy 2-D monster-movie-inspired puzzle platformer that will no doubt strike a chord with the inherent glutinous characteristics that are woven into the fabric of our being. The need we humans feel to constantly consume, gain and grow (sometimes intellectually, but most of the time physically), is the distinct idiosyncrasy in which Tales from Space: About a Blob is built upon.

About a Blob shares a similar feature to that of games like Katamari Damacy, where the objective is to make your way through the levels and consume as many objects as possible to grow bigger and stronger, while battling, or in most cases absorbing your enemies.  Simple enough. But fear not the game has more depth than what appears on the surface.

You start off the game as a tiny gelatinous jellylike blob from outer space who has crash-landed on Earth, only to be captured by the quintessential parabolic mirror-wearing Mad Scientist. Holding you hostage in his villainous lab where he plans to run experiments on you – which may or may not involve beakers and pool balls – your objective is to squish and squeeze your gooey self out of captivity and begin your quest to gain freedom by consuming and absorbing everything in your path.

The game features zero dialogue, other than the occasional cutesy Lego-style grunts and generic grumbles, but this doesn’t belittle the plot of the game or detract the player from becoming invested in the story and connected to the gummy bear-like protagonist.

I can’t describe how immensely gratifying it is to watch your blog grow and expand to immense proportions as he continuously absorbs objects of increasing proportions. Don’t be surprised if a Tamagotchi-esque bond occurs between you and your blob as you progress through the game.

As I mentioned above, this game isn’t just a free-for-all buffet-style eat ‘em up. There’s more to it than just scarfing down objects and satisfying your voracious blobby appetite. As the game progresses you’ll be faced with challenging physics-based puzzles that require players to strategically navigate their way through the levels by avoiding blob-frying laser beams, activating gates, triggering weight sensing plates by barfing up consumed objects, and gaining enough mass to reach the required goal for each level – without which you cannot proceed. And that’s all before you obtain your special abilities to become electrically charged and magnetized, all of which add another layer of difficulty and “strategery“ to the puzzles.

The game mechanics used in About a Blob are by no means breakthrough or original. But DrinkBox has managed to execute them with artistic discretion and an engaging playfulness that makes it somehow feel innovative, fresh, and immensely addictive.

What really makes About a Blob so enjoyable is the wit and personality that oozes from every aspect of the game. The developers have managed to add generous servings of their own charm and personality throughout the game. These little “Easter eggs”, if you will, are mostly in the form of funny gags and background signs and billboards, like a bottle of glue labelled “Glue (not mayo)”. No doubt, one of the devs holds on to an interesting story from his/her past, which I’m sure we can guess what the result was.

Adding to this, the game features a fantastic retro art style and science fiction inspired score that sets the perfect tone for the games environments and scenarios.

About a Blob provides gamers with 17 levels ranging from quick and easy to challenging and difficult. What‘s not difficult however, are the boss battles. Having said that, I beat this game playing the local co-op campaign and not the single player campaign – which may explain why…maybe? But it was with my girlfriend, so it might as well have been single player. I found almost every boss battle to be incredibly easy and predictable, with only the final boss presenting any real level of difficulty and marginal palm sweat.

Overall, About a Blob is incredibly enjoyable, be it single player campaign or local co-op. It’s crafted with passion and care, and DrinkBox made sure they took the necessary time to make every aspect of this game chalked full of wit, charm and amusement. Sony made the right choice accepting DrinBox Studios’ first console game into their Pub Fund program, as About a Blob has proved it belongs alongside other breakout Pub Fund games like Joe Danger and Burn Zombie Burn.

 

Tales from Space: About a Blob is available as an automatic download for PlayStation Plus members and $15 dollars for non PlayStation Plus members.

Tl;dnr

 

The Good:

  • Awesome retro art style and science fiction inspired theme and musical score.
  • Charming, fun and whimsical characters, gameplay and puzzles.
  • Great personality and Drinkbox Dev humor inserted into the game.
  • Gameplay and mechanics aren’t anything new but come off as fresh and strangely innovative.
  • Yet another substantial indie game, from yet another Toronto indie dev studio.
  • Well designed and executed physics-based puzzles and integration of special abilities used to solve puzzles.
  • About a Blog may not go down in history as other great indies like Braid and Super Meat Boy, but it has set the bar high for indie games in 2011.

The Bad:

  • Although the game is well done overall, there are the occasional tell-tale signs of an indie game: repetitive enemy models, environmental objects etc.
  • Local co-op campaign is fun but online co-op would have been fantastical times.
  • Boss battles are a cakewalk.
  • 15$ price tag may scare off some gamers, but those budgetary button bashers will most likely come back around if it ever goes on sale.

You’ll like this game if you like: Joe Daner, DeathSpank, Katamari Damacy, PixelJunk Shooter, Earthworm Jim, LoccoRocco.

 

Platform: PS3

Developer/Studio: DrinkBox Studio

Reco: Buy it

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