Arthouse Games
Review: The Blob
by jcr13Friday, December 8, 2006 [1:22 pm]

 http://binnenstad.hku.nl/Screenshots/Blob%2520logo.jpg This is the third in a series of Slamdance Finalist reviews.

The Blob is an urban ball-rolling game that instantly reminds me of Katamari Damacy. The difference is that, instead of picking up objects, you're picking up various colors. Your goal is to paint the entire city, which starts out decorated with a bland, soul-less gray.

There are some INK patrol officers scattered around the city too, and they are trying to stop you from colorizing their community. If you run into one of them, they steal your color, replacing it with black ink. To restore your painting ability, you must wash off in one of the city's many
canals.

I played a single game for quite a while, and I never came close to painting everything, nor did I ever lose. There doesn't seem to be a time limit, which was the chief source of challenge in Katamari Damacy. The difficulty in The Blob stems from the placements of the various painting targets, and some are quite hard to reach.

I found the mouse-based control to be simple, but exhausting---to roll forward, you must continuously push the mouse forward. Mouse aiming would be fine, but a "roll forward" key would be a relief.

Pursuit of the various special targets failed to hold my interest, so I wasn't compelled to finish the game. Apparently, painting the special targets eventually opens up new areas of the city, but I never got to that point. Painting the other, non-target buildings and objects generates points, and score-boosting combos are possible (where you paint one object after another, without too much time passing between each painting). However, score, by itself, doesn't strikes me as a compelling motivator. The INK officers are easy to avoid (and easy to "wash off" if you get caught), so they don't provide an interesting challenge either.

Thus, I would say that The Blob is perhaps too simple for its own good.

We could read into the game as a metaphor (something about bringing colorful culture to a society bent on bland uniformity), but that metaphor has been beaten to death already by other works. The film Pleasantville comes to mind.

In technical terms, The Blob succeeds: the city is large and rather detailed, and the blob itself moves nicely. The trails of paint, which you leave behind as you roll, have a nice "fluid" feel to them---splashiness and squishiness are conveyed well. You can also rise up to a hawks-eye view of the entire city to view your handiwork. The presentation is generally impressive.

The overall concept is original, but the lack of depth makes The Blob less than compelling. I won't even approach the art question.

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