Jul 15, 2013
Ancient Egyptians were an unusual lot. Their worship of Scarab beetles is but one of the examples of their quite symbolic, and peculiar culture. To clear things up of any romanticism whatsoever, Scarab beetles are basically poop bugs. They roll animal poop into balls and then, well, eat it. Egyptians found a sort of symbolism in this process, because they thought them to be familiar to Ra, reborn god of life and death, who transforms bodies and souls, creating new life out of old. Because Scarabs were such a prominent part of ancient Egyptian culture, now they are ones of the most popular beetles, not counting the McCartney sort. Scarab Tales, which is an okay puzzle game, gives these bugs the main part, and asks player to get them to their destination via weird manipulations with the level. Sadly, no rolling of poop-balls is involved.
It’s quite difficult to describe what goes on in Scarab Tales. The mission is simple and clear: there are several Scarab beetles that run through a tiled level, according to specific rules, and each one has to get to one of the tiles, engraved with a Scarab symbol. There are two types of beetles, red and green ones. They both move with the same speed, and when they don’t have anywhere to run, turn backwards, or to any available path. They only differ by one simple, but significant detail. When red ones hit a wall and can turn left or right, they always turn left. Green ones always turn right. That’s it.
The only way to control a beetle is to tap on it so it starts running, or tap on it while it goes, to stop it. There are also certain tiles that can be controlled, for example â€“ tiles that can be raised to block any movement across them, or tiles that make Scarabs turn, and can be rotated, or balls of sand that Scarabs need to place on their positions, before proceeding. Although the rules are extremely simple in Scarab Tales, they are very unusual, and require a lot of pondering about, before making a move. If the level is completed in a certain number of moves, three stars can be awarded, but there is almost no limit on the number of moves it takes to finish it. And if Scarab Tales proves to be too interesting, there’s an actual level editor that allows creation of the new maps, relatively easy. I wonder how many players are going to actually use it, but the fact that it’s there is pleasant enough.
Scarab Tales isn’t anything fancy. It features a somewhat raw graphic style, very basic gameplay, and no real exploration. It’s generally quite cheap, so while it provides enough challenges, and forces the player to stretch his gray matter a bit, there’s simply nothing else to seek, apart from the challenge itself. It’s just a quirky puzzle game, but I think Scarab Tales is quirky enough to be interesting to puzzle geeks.