« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2009, 02:20:10 AM »
Saw and played Push on the indiegames blog last night. I played it and got to around the 20 levels remaining point before quitting.
I really liked the game in its early levels. The concept is really interesting, and the early levels are fun and either simple but creative or slightly challenging without being annoying. Partly due to how much I liked the early game and concept, I grew to dislike it more and more as I kept playing.
The huge problem with the game is that the controls for both your character's jumps and the push mechanic are clumsy. It's hard to notice this in the early levels, where precision doesn't matter. After you add in new things for extra challenge as the levels increase, this becomes more apparent. Some examples:
- There are levels that have you sort out fire blocks from very nearby ground blocks using the push mechanic. It looks like you intentionally make some levels with the gimmick in mind where the player will kill himself by accidentally pushing a fire block into him. This is frustrating, not challenging.
- There's a couple levels I've seen where you have to push a movable block through a red wall, at the very edge of the push sphere. At the edge of this sphere, blocks become very wobbly and hard to control. You have some jumps designed with this maximum stretch state in mind. As a bonus, you can't see the blocks you're pushing through the immovable walls in many points. This is frustrating, not challenging.
- Some levels have a mechanic in mind where you attach your head to a block or ceiling, then go right to swing yourself around and up that block to land on top of it. This is hard to do, and in some cases not possible. The glitchy nature of this makes me wonder if this is a bug or not. I mean, it looks like a bug, but it also really seems that in some levels this is what you're supposed to do? This brings me to another point:
- The clumsy/glitchy nature of the controls makes basic puzzles hard to figure out. Questions popped in my mind while playing like: Am I supposed to make this difficult pinpoint jump, or is there a workaround for it? Is this a puzzle solution, or is it a bug? Is this even an intentional puzzle? A couple levels seemed like puzzles, but I eventually beat just by brute force/dumb lucking it intentionally, like "ah it burns!". This level of uncertainty isn't really challenging, either, so much as confusing and irritating.
- Blind off the screen jumps combined with the harsh air controls.
- Swift deaths requiring you to do the level over from the start, possibly caused by any of the above. Some levels having multiple death traps. No checkpoints.
I gave up on the level "HANG ON", which combined the ceiling-mounted corner jump, fire blocks, crumbling blocks, red immovable walls that obscured what you were pushing, and mandatory pushing blocks to the edge of the push radius. I kept getting to the third jump, which is where all the fire blocks were, but then having no idea what the intent was there. It looked like you could almost glitch-jump your way up, and really should have been able to if the ceiling-mounted glitch jump lets you get up vertical tile, but the character always just got hung up on the corner for a second and fell to its death. I'm still not sure if that was supposed to be a puzzle. There was also a crumbling block buried with all the fire blocks, maybe you were supposed to somehow dig the only crumbling block out of it rather than doing a ceiling-glitch jump? Anyway, I'd die there and then repeat the other 70% of the level. This prevented me from ever getting to the blind off-the-screen jump portion.
As a point of reference, I didn't even find Flywrench frustrating, and I'm pretty sure Messhoff's whole intent is in attempting to frustrate the player. I have a high threshold, so your game holds a unique spot for me.
That kind of turned into a long criticism. I really did like the concept of the game, and really liked how you included a level editor. Many of the fan levels were fun, too. Maybe the unique concept and great early level design is one of the reasons I found the later parts of the game so irritating.