Review – Flockers [PC]

Posted: December 29, 2014 in PC, Review
Tags: , ,

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Violence of the lambs… I’m sure that pun has already been mentioned, but it’s not too far off what occurs in Team 17’s Flockers. After being used by the Worms in their own games for various degrees of destructive warfare since the series’ creation in 1995, it seems the sheep have finally had enough and are attempting to break out en masse out of a Worm Sheep Processing Plant (Unofficial title) full of exposed giant buzz saws and crushing weights to the green pastures of freedom.

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Following a simple get-to-the-exit mechanic, it’s more than clear that Flockers borrows heavily from the Lemmings formula in that the sheep walk forward without a care in the world, even off high platforms or into the razor embrace of a spinning saw. Luckily though, you have the luxury of being able to assign various powers to the sheep in order to overcome obstacles. Not all powers are available at the start of each level and in an homage to the Worms games they must be collected via crates, which doesn’t leave you with much time to plan before the first thing blocks your path. For those who don’t feel they have the lightning reflexes required for some levels the ability to pause the game is available, as well as a fast forward option – perfect for when you’ve got the perfect set up and you just want those baa-ing things to hurry up.

Apart from the difficulty curve going up with the number of powers you can bestow upon your flock, one part of Flockers seems designed specifically to make you want to pull your hair out with frustration. Certain perils can appear out of nowhere with no defence or a way to avoid it. The only possible way to recover from the situation is to restart the level, have your sheep make a wall and pack your flock together before releasing the wall and hoping they all get out of the way in time.

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There are obstacles which seemed designed to frustrate the player. One level saw me helping a flock of sheep which were stuck by having a different group fly up a wall and open the way forward. They scaled the wall  and made their way to a platform which then started walking, which was great, I was making progress. Then a buzz saw lowered itself in front of the walking platform and shredded all but a few of my hard working woollies. I restarted the level thinking I could save them by blocking them off with a wall of sheep but it ended in the same bloodbath, but with even fewer survivors. I had to wonder whether I was simply not able to save all the sheep and some were designed to be collateral damage for no real reason. Sure, when you have to make a sheep self-destruct to destroy a route blocking crate you acknowledge that there will be sacrifice, but when something like this crops up with no solution it ruins the enjoyment somewhat.

There is definite replay value as you find yourself going back to earlier levels to improve your previous score and save more woolly victims – if the level will allow – as well as bonus levels being unlockable and rescuing golden sheep imprisoned in cages in some levels. The unlockable content is mainly aesthetic but making skeletal sheep or 8-bit sheep meander into the meat grinder is something new-ish to look at.

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The downside to Flockers is that it gets a little repetitive. It’s based on a game series which everyone in the gaming world (and indeed beyond) knows about and does little to change the formula. Many of the power ups are used in one form or another in the first five levels which leaves little surprise for the late game. Teleporters and the occasional burst of anti-gravity can keep you on your toes, especially the teleporters which offer zero help in letting you know the new location of your sheep, potentially leading to another level restart. Power ups are limited in their usage so you must think carefully about where you would put them, however the levels are fairly linear and it doesn’t test the grey matter too much. It’s just a question of timing and multitasking. Like one-level games like Cut The Rope, completing the level is the easy part – doing it properly is where the challenge lies.

pr0s
A] Well established formula
B] Lots of sheep to unlock
C] Satisfying gore

Cons
A] Could’ve added something new to the gameplay
B] The feeling that some lives could’ve been saved
C] More power ups would’ve been nice

Final Score

7/10

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