Scarab Tales Review

Scarab Tales Review

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.

Scarab_Tales_3It’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 – 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.

Open Sea! (Go Down Mo!) Review

Open Sea! (Go Down Mo!) Review

Feb 18, 2013

Whether or not the Bible is a part of a person’s beliefs or not, it’s out there for all to see. Not too many games are out there made to be fun vs. preachy, but Open Sea! (Go Down Mo!) tries to balance this. The plot of the game is Mo is saving people from Egypt. To escape, he needs to part the waters and let them go across. Seems pretty simple, right?

The people are staggered in a way that’s challenging to get them all across at once. The water needs to be moved to let the different waves of people through. Some of the people are a lot slower than others. This is where the divine power of the lightening strikes come in to motivate the blessed slow people.

The lightening bolts also can slow down the mummies. Did I mention the mummies yet? Nope. Mummies are chasing the people. If they catch one of them, they are a goner. The mummies need to be drowned to stop them. Luckily the people can hold their breath a little longer than the mummies can so is a mummy is tussling with a person, run the water over them and the person has a better chance at making it out alive.

I like the animation. It looks like little paper cutouts of the people waddling along. The scenery is the same. It reminds me of a grade school play setting. The controls are pretty simple. A swipe here, a double tap there, the occasional shake of the device. Later in the game other heroes show up to help. When Mo saves Jess, he makes it so the people walk on water for a little while. Other characters come in at different times with other powers to help the people get across safely.