The entire concept of tiny space aliens hunting flies.
Introduces elements/enemies well.
Different gameplay modes mix up the formula a little.
Character is strangely jittery.
All characters and creatures in this game range from creepy to horrifying.
Judging from the two different release dates, this is a mobile port.
Flyhunter Origins Review
A word on Despicable Me’s Minions. Enough. That is all. I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely sick to death with these stumpy yellow creatures. Yes, they were funny at first, with their broken Spanish, strange eyes and their obsession with bananas, but I feel they’ve overstayed their welcome. Evidently the majority of people don’t agree, as they’re very own movie is to be released soon, while Gru was quietly pushed out of the spotlight. This rant stemmed from seeing Zak, the main character of Flyhunter Origins. A stumpy orange creature with one eye. And I’m sure the creators took extra care to not make him yellow. But his clothes are, so there are just enough similarities for the audience to make a connection. But whatever I say about Minions, they at least look decent. Cute, even. There is nothing cute about Zak. And I think I know why: there’s no whites in his eye. It’s nothing but electric blue iris and a little black dot. This doesn’t sound like a huge issue, but it really does make a difference, which is probably why Minions don’t have irises at all. It’s off-putting to say the least.
Flyhunter Origins starts with a ship flying through space. The cargo hold opens, and a lot of boxes fall towards what I assume is Earth. Zak is then charged with gathering all the lost cargo and splattering every insect he lays his eye on. Zak also has an AI assistant who will make dry and witty remarks during tutorials. I must admit, some of them made me chuckle. Not wishing to spoil, but as the story continues the player finds out that there was another “person” on the ship. They’re also on the same planet as you, and you come across them as you progress through the game. The environments strongly remind me of “A Bug’s Life”, seeing items we see every day from a different perspective. This is used imaginatively when Zak comes across a garden gnome, and his AI comments on it.
Games aimed at children are much more unrestricted when it comes to music. The composers can make any jovial, catchy music they want and as long as it fits the setting, everyone will love it. Look at the Mario series, they continuously make decent themes that fit the mood for the various levels, along with Sonic to a lesser extent. The music itself means nothing, but accompanies the level well and can really build atmosphere. I must say, I’m disappointed with Flyhunter Origin’s music. After playing for a decent amount of time, I’m sad to say that not one song stuck in my head. Or many sound effects either. The only sound effect that’s really stuck with me is the harrowing sound of spiders, which we’ll address later.
Fly Hunter Origins mostly plays as a 2D platformer. You can run, jump and use weapons. One thing that’s strange is whenever you move, Zak slightly vibrates. Anyone who’s played a game with a high ping/large amount of lag will understand when I say he jitters slightly. It feels like his movements are happening a millisecond after I commanded them. I think it’s a glitch.
The weapons are surprisingly fitting- a flyswatter and a zapper gun (probably derived from the fly zappers seen in shops). Some enemies can be jumped on while others need to be swatted. The stun gun is unlocked later in the game, and as the name suggests, it temporarily stuns enemies. There’s no aiming with this, it’ll target the closest enemy. Enemies drop green orbs when killed which are required to finish the level. Zak can also collect white orbs, which are supposedly “rare” insect eggs. I was surprised by the game’s lack of irony at calling them rare when they’re absolutely littered all over the stage and are needed in abundance when trying to buy even the first upgrades to your weapons. These upgrades increase your weapon’s usefulness, allowing him to defeat enemies quicker.
The second gameplay mode is the flying mode. Zak decides to kick his jetpack up a notch and lets you soar through a flying stage. These are very similar to flying mini-games you see within many AAA games nowadays. Examples being Dead Space 2, God of War 3, Spiderman Edge of Time, the list continues. You fly towards obstacles and have to get out of the way. Only in this game, you’re chasing a fly, so you have to build up your boost meter with power-ups until you can boost next to it and swat it repeatedly until it falls. There aren’t any enemies in this mode.
Speaking of which, the enemies in Flyhunter Origins are the most horrific creatures I’ve ever seen in a child’s game. The green and orange bugs are easy to overcome, since they’re the first enemy you encounter. But then there’s the spiders. Bear in mind I’m not an arachnophobe, but these little blighter’s had me cursing whenever I saw them. See they have a delightful habit of descending incredibly quickly on Zak before wrapping him in webbing, which counts as an insta-kill. There are telltale signs that they’re near, a small pile of bones mark their presence. But when the bones are light brown and the ground is slightly darker brown, these easily blend into the background and become pretty much invisible. This unfair camouflage lead to many jump-scares when they pounced. And this is just one enemy. Venus flytraps act as a type of platform. Mess around for too long and you’re a goner. Walking spiders are pretty bad too, since while they don’t kill you instantly they can take a lot of punishment before dying. Even the freaking ladybirds are nightmare creatures. They’re large in comparison to our hero, and when I approached it started flapping its wings. Cautious, I was considering jumping before it rushed forward, grabbed Zak and mauled him. Another insta-kill. Frogs in the background are another irritant, though these were handled well. When you first see a frog, its sitting behind a bottomless pit, not doing anything. The next time you see one, it’s behind a platform covered in sticky-looking green ooze. Naturally you avoid this and, possibly sub-consciously, tell yourself to avoid frogs in general. This is the type of pacing I like, when the player associates things by themselves, without having to be told what’s good and what’s dangerous. If you are unfortunate enough to walk in front of a frog, it’ll whip its tongue into the foreground and snap you up faster than you can see it.
So this game is packed full of one-hit-kills, but it never feels cheap. This is due to the generous amount of “cloning stations” that act as checkpoints dotted around the level. This sounds like a fair trade off, unfair deaths for little to no punishment, but it really isn’t. There isn’t any downside to dying. At all. The levels aren’t timed, you don’t lose money or green orbs, the enemies don’t respawn, it just… happens. And because of this, all the weight of the situation is lost. Why should I care if Zak drowns? Or gets eaten? I’ll be reset a little further back, just to do it again. There’s no urgency, no reward and no real punishment for any of your actions. Sure, the creatures are scary, but nothing happens if you lose. Flyhunter Origins is all bark and no bite.
And finally, I do not care which game platform Flyhunter Origins was developed for first. The mobile version came out before the PC version, making this game a mobile port. Granted, the graphics look worse on the mobile version, but it’s cheaper too. This game does need to be bought outright instead of downloadable for free with micro-transactions. PC ports of mobile games are pretty much original sin in my eyes and while I don’t let it change the score of the game, it does gain my scowl of disapproval.
Overall, this game is good. It’s a competent platformer that paces itself well, but I feel like it missed the mark slightly. There’s no punishment for playing badly, the general audio is lacklustre (though I like the AI, and his voice acting is decent) and the wildlife is sure to keep any child away from the Great Outdoors.
Flyhunter Origins Review
Steel Wool Games
10th December 2014