How can I play a game I can’t pronounce?
This game frustrates me. Not because it has lacklustre controls, poor graphics or bland gameplay, but because I don’t know what it’s called. Yes, I realise the title is front and centre on the app icon, but ‘Creavures’? How the heck are you supposed to pronounce that? You ask if I can read. Of course I can. Ok, so words with more than two syllables sometimes stump me, but where Creavures is concerned, nothing I’ve come up with makes any sense.
Thankfully, the name is the only thing that irritates me. The rest of it is pretty darn swell.
You play as one of five super-cute creatures (hey, that’s a more pronounceable name). These are Bitey, Pokey, Rolly, Zappy and Glidey – either a bunch of five year olds made those names up, or the Muse Games staff are sipping on something a little stronger than fruit juice during their lunch breaks. The forest the creatures inhabit is gradually being choked by darkness. It’s light is fading, and it’s up to these creatures to work together using their unique skills to restore their home.
And what a home it is. If more evidence was needed that the drugs and alcohol policy at Muse Games is somewhat lax, just check out the way this game looks. It’s beautiful, amazing, haunting and downright trippy; a luminescent light show of glowing flowers, twinkling trees and blushing colours. And although the scenery can have so much going on that it can get confusing, and the creature’s jumping animation is a little off – they kind of float rather than spring upwards – it’s (cliche alert) one of the most distinctive looking games on the iDevices. Also, after re-reading what I wrote, I’d like to completely retract that statement about the Muse Games drugs and alcohol policy.
Starting by controlling the first creature, Bitey, you’re charged with traversing the forest in a typical left to right fashion, jumping, hanging on vines and using his jaws to swing from low-hanging fruit and snap at dangerous animals who have been confused into a frenzy by the lack of light. Said animals are instantly rendered harmless, but never actually die – a cute touch which negates the need to KILL KILL KILL. It’s more about negotiating your way through the terrain than vanquishing foes anyway. Think of it as a puzzle platformer rather than a blasting one. Enemies other than bosses are in short supply.
After a few minutes of jumping around the psychedelic jungle, you’ll meet Pokey, a hedgehog type character who’s more powerful than Bitey. He’s a little slower, and can’t jump as high, but can shoot his spikes into walls, which allow both he and Bitey to climb and access new areas. You can switch between Creavures at any time, and frequently have to scout ahead with one character while the other waits, then use a combination of the character’s unique skills to progress. With three other characters waiting to be introduced, each with their own skill, can you see the potential for puzzles here? I can, because I’m well clever mate.
Gameplay isn’t especially tough however, even with decent boss battles at the end of each chapter. It can even border on repetitive considering switching between Creavures means having to hustle through the same part of the level you just conquered with your first character. It is nice that you can’t just mindlessly take progress for granted as you can with some iOS platformers – which you can literally play with your eyes closed (yes, literally) – but sometimes you just want to get on with it. Having to backtrack limits the game’s IQP rating – that stands for ‘In Queue Potential’, a term I just made up that describes how effective a game is in providing short bursts of entertainment while you’re waiting in a queue. I’m going to trademark that.
Regardless, Creavures is definitely one of the more original platformers on iOS, and stands out amongst the plethora of cookie-cutter rivals by the strength of its visuals, cutesy sound and teamwork gameplay.
But naturally, I still have no idea how to pronounce its name.
CreaVures – from Chillingo – is out now as a universal iOS App for $0.99