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Flockers (Xbox One) Review

 
Flockers Logo
Flockers Logo
Flockers Logo

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: Xbox One, PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
6.0
6/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


  • Colourful re-imagining of DMA's classic Lemmings
  • Some tricky and engaging puzzles to overcome

Not So Much?


  • Frustrations with the "sticky" scrolling and zoom
  • Chaotic at times in all the worst ways overriding the pure logic of the puzzle solving
  • Doesn't move far from the 23-year old Lemmings formula
  • Heavy micromanagement
  • Seems deliberately obtuse at times


Final Fiendish Feelings?

When you borrow heavily from a 23 year old game, you should at least move that design on a little. Flockers tries to be Lemmings reborn but sadly falls short of that target.

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Posted October 10, 2014 by

 
Final Fiendish Feelings?
 
 

Flockers is a new IP from UK independent legends Team 17.  Built very much in the mould of classics like Lemmings and Troddlers how does the first new title to come out of the Wakefield studio stack up against such long standing classics.

flockers 3Flockers represents the first new IP in over ten years and the comparisons to games like Lemmings are not only obvious but totally spot-on.  In fact if DMA/Rockstar North decided to make a modern day sequel you’d be hard pressed to envisage something that’s not Flockers… although they’d naturally use lemmings not sheep!  To be totally honest this isn’t really a million miles away from the look and feel of modern Worms titles either – evident in the fact the sheep in Flockers are spookily close to the poor quadrupeds hurled about in Worms.

Each level is broken down to one simple task – get a certain number of sheep to the exit in an allotted timeframe.  Sheep are dispensed from usually one, but sometimes multiple, shoots at the start of the level.  They will continue to make their way in the direction they are facing unless you intervene, an obstacle is reached, or they meet one of a series of pretty grisly ends.

flockers 4

Along the bottom of the screen you have a selection of abilities to choose from.  Some make the sheep jump, some fly, some stack in certain patterns, some might block etc.  Using this series of abilities you will guide the poor hapless sheep through many a pitfall or trap to their exit somewhere around the level.  You start with a limited number of these abilities – or, on occasion, none at all.  You will then collect certain abilities throughout the levels which add to you limited arsenal of options.  These are limited and must be used wisely.  As the game progresses through its 60 levels more sheep types and abilities are revealed to you.  Anyone familiar with the concept of a Lemmings game will recognise this style of platform puzzler immediately.

With a cartoonish look and feel that leans heavily on the studios Worms art style the game looks bright and colourful with a playful exterior.  The sheep are funny and cute and some of the cut scenes are fun too.  It’s the whole aesthetic that makes it so jarring when your cute little sheep is impaled on some spikes, blood flying all over the scene, or gets cleaved in two by a massive saw blade.  It just seems unnecessarily gory and bloody.  Even with blood turned off the death of the small friendly animals is brutal!

For the most part Flockers does what it sets out to do.  This is a game that walks in the shadow of Lemmings, a game that’s been around for over 23 years.  Yet it never breaks out of that shadow, offering very little to distinguish itself from these older classics.

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The area where Flockers starts to come apart a little is in the overly fussy, micromanager, execution of it all.  Granted this style of game has always had a hint of anxiety and chaos around them but this can usually me overcome with some methodical thinking and a logical plan of action.  Unfortunately in Flockers the level design and mechanics often let it down.

For instance a level will suddenly start and with no good grasp of where your sheep are being delivered you suddenly find two locations in different areas of a cluttered map that suddenly has sheep hurling themselves to their doom!

Added to that is the random and unforgiving nature of the automated traps.  These automated traps are incredibly tricky to allow for a more often than not you’ll end up losing huge swathes of sheep in a gut-churning mutton blood bath.  You’ll likely still have enough to finish a level, yet it keeps you from getting anything near the 3-star rating that denotes a perfectly played level.

It’s all too easy to get lost in a level and not be able to locate the sheep you’re looking for in Flockers.  This is compounded by teleports in the game that make the sheep disappear and reappear in a remote location.  Finding that remote location can be a frustrating few seconds and all that time your stupid sheep are being turned in to squishy red moosh.  Compounding these frustration is a scrolling and zoom system that’s a little “sticky” as well as a complete lack of direction at times as to how to play the game.  It seems to be deliberately obtuse at times.

Flockers 1

Final Thoughts

Flockers is a solid puzzle platformer game that has a series of niggles that lend themselves to inducing frustrations.  You can simply sometimes feel like you’re trying to keep four balls in the air whilst spinning a stack of plates at the same time.  Often logic goes out the window in favour of blind panic.

Team 17, who recently did the conversion work on Lemmings for Sony, have borrowed heavily from that experience.  They’ve tinkered with a few things, given it a new coat of paint, yet failed to move a 23 year old genre on in any meaningful way.

Whilst Flockers is a reasonable challenge and harks back to a much forgotten genre, we can’t help feeling this is a title that screams out for a handheld device rather than a clumsy controller.  Served this on a tablet, or a large screened phone, then it would make a great time-waster.

As it stands Flockers is an amusing, yet frustrating distraction.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.