REVIEW: Doctor Kvorak’s Obliteration Game

REVIEW: Doctor Kvorak’s Obliteration Game

Be a contestant in a game show with the ultimate risk. Are you able to save the planet by winning a round of puzzles and dangers, or will you fail and condemn the residents to their doom?

Steam: Released
Type: Single-player
Genre: Casual, Action
Developer: Freekstorm
Publisher: Freekstorm
Release date: 26 July, 2017

The upbeat poppy theme that started playing in the background when I launched the game threw me back to the days of PS1: those platformers where you collect random items, solve puzzles by moving boxes, and avoid lasers. Everything here screams the 90’s except the controls that are as tight as modern games have accustomed us to. This game feels like it’s made with a very young player base in mind, which hurts its chances to reach its full potential, since the game has its own unique charm and features great dialogue. After a promising start, things start to get repetitive and a few bad design choices hinder the gaming experience.

Gameplay Video

Saving worlds

To keep a TV show interesting, intergalactic or not, the stakes have to be in order, and here we are trying to save planets from annihilation. Our omnipotent host has sliced the planets into a few pieces that we must gather from around each level. When completed with all the pieces collected, a planet is officially saved. Along the way, we can also collect more accessories and clothing for our hero to make him or her look more appealing for the crowds. Who would want to run naked all the time, especially in front of the cameras, broadcast all over the galaxy? The stakes are high enough to make the viewers care about the outcome and production values look good, so this show should be a sure hit!

Funny guy

The plot is advanced by our host appearing every once in a while, talking about himself and arguing with a giant rooster. The animal in question usually speaks in rhymes and is fun to follow, while our host’s egomaniacal boasts also offer fun bits here and there. These two clearly have a history that is revealed bit by bit amidst their arguments, which happen around the levels whenever they make their appearances. Over the course of the show, we get to control three different contestants, each with one special skill helping us to solve specific puzzles that would be impossible on our own. This brings a little twist to the later levels but the main interest lies with the villain and the aforementioned giant animal.

At the time of writing I’ve completed most of the levels and the overall scenery hasn’t changed at all. Every level has the same type of walls and color scheme. Being a game from a small studio, this is understandable, but it does get dull after a while. I also noticed that most of the collectibles are right along the way, 1-2 pieces of the planet are hard to find on every level, and there’s about 10 of them. The first few levels are very promising but after that, my interest towards them started to lower due to the previously mentioned points.

The dialogue stayed enjoyable all the way through and was nice to follow; without a doubt, this is the high point of the game. Everything else other than the dialogue made me feel like the game is intended for an age group around 10-year-olds. There really aren’t hard puzzles, not even in the later stages where we control different characters. Everything is straightforward and the overall graphical style felt like I should be in my pre-teen years to fully enjoy this game.

The overall graphical style is seems like it’s designed with younger audience in mind.

No show is perfect

Things start off simple enough. There is a linear first level which serves as a tutorial and features the basic mechanisms, as well as strengthening my nostalgia towards my childhood days. I usually move around in games by jumping, but for some strange reason, the jumping animation is relaxingly smooth.  I don’t know if the devs intentionally took this into consideration but the jumping animation is just so soothing. It’s not an awkward one like in Skyrim or unnatural looking like most games have, it’s just extremely casual hopping. It’s a minor detail, but one that I noticed right away. It was surprisingly relaxing!

Since I’ve brought up jumping, there is one minor annoyance: we can’t really jump down from small platforms without our hero stumbling and getting slowly back up. It breaks the flow and almost forces the player to use every small stairwell when going down. I can understand the effect since our hero is short, so relatively speaking, it is a long fall for him or her, but it’s frustrating to a player who is used to platformers. This game is full of minor annoyances like that and one feature that really bugged me while playing…

Should have taken the stairs

When collecting a piece of the planet you are saving, the whole gameplay stops for a while and an image of the planet fills most of the screen. You can’t move until the loose piece has been fitted in the planet/jigsaw puzzle in a short animation. Gameplay also stops for example when a switch is pressed that lowers a stairwell, starts a lift and, pretty much on every occasion, something activates for the first time. it would be a good thing if the activation happened far away from the player, but the gameplay stops every time. Let’s use this for an example: On one level I had 3 switches right next to a locked door with 3 red lights. I put the corresponding boxes on the first “switch”, the game stopped and showed a light turned from red to green, right next to me. The pause lasts for about 1-2 seconds. That was the biggest annoyance for me in an already slow-paced game. Especially since we have sections where there are few lifts that we can clearly see, but still we have to stop and wait for the game showing us that, yes, it was the lift right next to us which was just activated.

Stepping on the button gives us a cutscene of that door turning into green, and opening.

I spent 11 hours with this game, exploring every corner and sometimes trying to build paths with movable boxes to create bridges/my own jumping boxes, just for the sake of creating some diversity and challenge. I did enjoy my time on the first three levels.  After that, though, it was more of the same. The game also features a level editor that is your basic unity UI and easy to learn without any experience in Unity after fiddling around a bit, but the community maps are a different matter: I couldn’t download any. Trying to download them froze the game on me every time I tried to test them out. It just showed an empty screen and kept playing the menu music.

Should you buy it?!?

No, not for yourself, but yes for your children! There are good things in this game, even though it doesn’t feel like it while reading this review, but really nothing special. I asked my girlfriend to test this game as well to get a second opinion about the target group, and she said she felt the same after playing for a while, and she’s a pure platformer. I really think this game had potential, but it’s quite hard to imagine many people being interested about this who are past their pre-teen years. It’s simple and slow and that doesn’t equal fun.

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October 2017

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