Monday, 23 July 2012

Skweek : quick, squee, and boring

Skweek is a recently-launched app for iOS, as a revival and update on the old Skweek of 1989. Visually, it indeed harkens back to that era: vivid, almost-neon hues, small sprites with simple forms and color-swapped versions, a good ol' concept of "walk on the tiles to paint them". Even the chiptune-inspired music could be playing on an old Atari.

However, nostalgia isn't enough to make it work for me. The tutorial is both too slow and too short. Despite the overabundance of speech bubbles, there is no explanation on the different tiles, power-ups, or enemies. The tutorial lacks closure to make you feel like you've accomplished something and are ready for tougher challenges. You can redo the tutorial later, but what's the point? A simple screen or two with the description, in list form, of the aforementioned different tiles, power-ups, or enemies would have been far more efficient.

I also have issues with the control scheme, my little "skweek" lurching around and slowing down without any discernible reason. Furthermore, the concept of the game just bored me in one minute flat : you only have to wander around while avoiding or killing slow-moving enemies; the one difficult is not falling down holes, but because of the control issue, my character just kept joyfully diving headfirst of the ledge. And I tested Skweek at home; I can't just imagine playing on the go.

To be fair, the title screen (rightfully) reminded me of "vintage" brain-teasers and I expected an "you can only walk on on each tile, unless it's a special tile" kind of mental exercise. I jumped to conclusions and was immediately proven wrong, which may partly explained my lack of enthusiasm. It relies on skill, avoiding enemies and walking carefully, which is not my preferred kind of game, especially on Iphone - and especially when the controls impede whatever skill you might have.

Last but not least, it's completely free, so you can always download it and check for yourself.

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