Mandarth’s Cavern
Danger – reading this blog can be fatally addictive.

Review 5- Blight Warrior

I was once told by a girl that I work with that by the fifth date she could tell me everything there was to know about the man, and would then dump them accordingly. Despite the fact that she was a bitch and would probably rather enjoy watching people burn barrels of puppies, kittens and copies of Left 4 Dead, I thought it might be rather interesting, as this is my 5th review, for myself to take a quick look in on the way I look at games. And not surprisingly, a few trends have popped up.

The first is that, at least when it comes to indie games, I am quite a social gamer. Games that are small enough and easy enough to play on a laptop during a lecture are almost always designed to be played around others, and as such I frown upon those games that, rather like the New South Wales Government, don’t seem to care about the people. The other main trend I have noticed is that, almost exactly like a strange man with a fetish for librarians, I can’t resist Spectacles. A game that incorporates these two factors has made it in my book. Of course there are other things that make a game, such as the gameplay or the sound direction, but there is something about playing a game that produces what I like to call ‘Holy Crap!’ moments: the point when all the people watching around you spontaneously cry out in surprise because of what is now entering into the game space. Warning Forever had them, in Burning Sand 2 you could make them, N loved them and Attack of the Killer Swarm was built on them. So now, without further ado, let us meet game number 5- Blight Warrior.

Blight warrior is a small, simple game made by a man named Jetro Lauha and, like many of my favorite Indie Games, was found on that marvelous website “Experimentalgameplay.com.” Based around generic shooter conventions, the idea of the game is to use your suspiciously sperm shaped object to shoot removers into the Blight to make it disappear. Remove enough Blight, and you advance to the next level. The game space itself is circular and as you move you pivot around the edge of said space, shooting your removers inwards on the dastardly blight. However, there are a few items that make this game far more than just a generic shooter.

Frantic, Fantastic, Fun

Blight Warrior: Frantic, Fantastic, Fun

The first is the games grounding in a certain type of algorithm called “Diffusion Limited Aggregation” which acts akin to a random event generator. The blight itself randomly spreads outwards like a virus, creating different tendrils and branches, its ultimate goal to reach the edge of the map, thus making you loose. As all of this is done as random, this means two things. One, each level is unique, an important factor in any game. Two, even if you replay a level, its not going to be the same. You cant train for this game by playing one level over and over again to you know just where all the blight is going to spread and when it will stretch outwards. Every bullet changes the construction of the blight, and thus changes the entire progress of the algorithm.

A second feature, and one that I think possibly makes this game so fun, is the random events that I like to call ‘Spikes.’ Essentially, this is when the blight, seemingly passive and slow moving, simply begins to grow like mad in one particular area, forcing you to completely reassess the way that you were playing the game. These spikes can range from occurring in one localised area to THE ENTIRE SCREEN! This is the centre of this games ‘Holy Fuck’ moments. It turns a level where a degree of concentration is needed into a level where you are going to need to be on Speed to successfullydestroy all of the blight. Here is a tip:Play this game with at least one person with you to spot the spikes. I did with my good web slave friend Jeremy and it really enhances the playing experience. After a while (Say level 7 where it begins to get hectic) you tend to stop feeling like you are playing a game, and more like the last bastion for earths defence, manning the last cannon between the enemy and the survivors, holding back waves and waves of ravenous aliens/zombies/Pauly Shore clones, with your partner yelling “SPIKE AT 2 O’CLOCK! OVER GROWTH AT 6!”

Do Not Let The Blight Grow This Big. Especialy On Level One.

Do Not Let The Blight Grow This Big. Especially On Level One.

Or Maybe I Just Have An Over Active Imagination…

There is another element that makes the gameplay more frantic, and that is the inclusion of limited ammunition. You begin each level with a certain amount of ammo, Say 20 bullets. As you deplete you cache, it slowly recharges, around one bullet every 3 seconds. However, large amounts of Ammo can be won at once by removing large sections of blight in one shot, which is done by shooting a tendril that is not crossed with another tendril, and is thus not reinforced. The More blight that is removed, the more bullets received. In the opening levels, where the blight is not as thick, and is not as fast growing, this is easy. However in later levels you will soon find yourself making desperate decisions whether to  fire your remaining ammunition into one fast growing tendril, or to leave it to go and replenish your ammo on the other side of the screen where there are un-guarded tendrils, and running the risk of having the original tendril spike at a very inconvenient time.

All this gameplay is backed up by a solid founding in music and graphics. The music chosen for the game is a dark techno beat, which, for some unknown reason, made me feel like was in a large, damp cavern. Luckily, it actually works. The slow and dark nature of the music, no matter how slow, actually adds to the frantic gameplay element and then suits the times when you have to make tactical decisions. The sound effects are ok, and are adequate for the game, just don’t blame me if you get annoyed by the repeated noise of your blight removal gun.

Squiggles Never Looked So Sexy

Squiggles Never Looked So Sexy

Luckily the graphical quality of the game is fantastic. In short, the game looks beautiful. In Long, The game looks very beautiful. In Review, the coloured neon glow of the blight makes it feel alive and pulsating, like an alien entity. Each level has a different combination of colours, lending each wave a distinctive style, and ensuring that not only is this game addictive to play, but that your eyes will have a visual orgasm every time you play. Quite simply, the game looks as beautiful in places as something you might find on a current generation console. Another element of the graphics of this game is the fact that everything seems to be moving. The blight slightly twitches and wriggles, your gun pulsates inwards and outwards. Apart from giving some people mild motion sickness, this serves to make you believe that you are not just shooting some squiggly neon lines, but a living, evil thing.

So that, my friends, is Blight Warrior. Its addictive gameplay is something of a paradox at times, requiring you to have a twitchy finger along with a tactical mind, two elements that often don’t go well together, but are better than Body Chocolate and Super Models in this context. The gameplay is also re-inforced by solid sound design, and fantastic graphics, making this a game that is a must play, at least around friends show you can show off just how good it looks.

Mandarth Out!

 

Tips for Playing

  • Stock up on ammo, but don’t be too stingy as ammunition doesn’t carry over from each level.
  • For best results, play with others and take turns in playing.
  • Do not kill almost all of a tendril but leave one small section when you are done with that area, especially if it is near the screen. Its only one spike away from being twice as big as before and taking you down.

Mandarth’s Challenge

Here is another easy one. Get to level 11. Sounds simple huh?

Download Blight Warrior Here!

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