Friday, February 1, 2008

Triachnid: Initial thoughts

Triachnid was mentioned as a must-play on a recent Independent Games Festival roundup, so I decided to give it a try.

I love the music. It is soulful and triggers emotions that I attribute to this very artificial looking creature (basically a collection of physics objects). Clever.

The controls are a little cumbersome. I find that my instinct is to jerk the mouse in the desired direction which makes my mouse cursor fly off the screen and drops the current leg I'm trying to drag. That said, I can see the potential for interesting puzzles and imagine that if the content is good I would eventually be able to master the controls.

Unfortunately this release was hampered with various initial experience issues:

  • It relied on me reading and understanding an initial text placard. I wasn't sure what the whole "balance" mechanic was about or how I was supposed to use it. Later placards didn't make clear what objects (like "eggs") looked like and didn't seem tied in concrete ways to game play events or in response to actions I tried.
  • Learn as you play prompts allowed me to fail -- and then forget what I was supposed to learn. This locked me off from a huge portion of content (grabbing and holding larvae in my mouth) and may prevent me from completing some required tasks (I don't know yet).
  • The initial level design seemed more like something I would get part way through the game. In other words the initial difficulty was too hard which led to some boring and frustrating moments (going up steep hills, navigating puddles). Yes you don't want a boring initial experience of just flat or down hill running -- but there is something to be said for layering on environmental challenges in a more distributed way.
  • And, sadly, I failed to complete the first level. I couldn't figure out how to exit the level without dying. I'll try again a couple of times, but sadly I think I'm done with it.

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