Indie Game Review: TIC: Part 1

TIC: Part 1

The first release from Indie developers RedCandy Games is a beautifully fun and accessible 2.5D adventure platformer, with the player taking on the role of a unicycling, wall-drilling, helicoptering mining robot named Tic.

Tic lives in the small mining town of Copperville, peaceful enough until the drills of EvilCorp dry up the town’s oil well. Without oil the town (and every other Townsbot) is doomed, so Tic embarks on a quest to destroy the EvilCorp drills that are carving up the countryside and threatening the world’s power. Friends like Thorne and Twitch help Tic along by giving him more powerful drills to get through layers of rock and giving him objectives to destroy the invasive drills.

The first thing you notice about TIC is the visuals- beautifully hand-drawn and rendered in a layered 2.5D, bright and idyllic in the countryside that contrasts with the rough industrial invasion of the EvilCorp machinery hidden underground. The fantastic soundtrack slowly permeates its way in, bright and insanely catchy, and flows through the levels without ever getting intrusive or irritating.

In-game screenshot

The gameplay itself is so simple, anyone could pick up the game and be able to play. The platformer movement leads the player to where they need to be, while drilling and hovering are just simple button presses. The game’s enemies are small drills that emerge from the ground in a shower of dirt (slightly reminiscent of the Masher fish from Sonic the Hedgehog) or drills that patrol the areas Tic needs to pass through.
Timing is the key to success in Tic. There are no weapons to kill the enemy drills with, but once you know their pattern of movement you can find a way to dodge past or around them without being hit. The underground pistons provide more of a challenge, often requiring trial and error to work out the best time to race beneath each one to safety without being crushed.

But what are these enemies guarding? Acorns; red, silver, and the rare gold one. Red Acorns replenish Tic’s energy, Silver Acorns restore a little health and are needed to complete objectives (such as getting a new drill to get through the rock layers) and Gold Acorns are special hidden-away extras for special rewards. Red Acorns lead you through the level- you can only hover for so long before Tic’s energy is depleted and he falls to the ground. Whether they’re pointing you up into the sky or helping you traverse long distances, they are usually guarded by enemy drills that need to be dodged.

As the name suggests, this is part 1 of an ongoing series- this first installment can be played through within 45 minutes, and leaves a tantalising wait for the next part. Short and sweet, you might say. But for such a short game, RedCandy have given it a lot of replay value.
Each level contains 30 Silver Acorns and 3 Gold Acorns- you’ll be hard pushed to find all of these on your first run-through, but when the Molepeople Chief promises you an ancient secret for all 30 Silver Acorns there is a definite incentive to go back and hunt them all down. The Gold Acorns are very well hidden, and you need to explore the whole gorgeous level to find them all.

Got all the Acorns on all 3 levels? Great! But you’re not done yet! There are also 3 Challenge modes for each level; ‘Collect 100 acorns’, ‘Don’t die!’, and ‘Clock of doom’.
‘Collect 100 acorns’ does exactly what it says on the tin- you have to collect 100 purple acorns without falling to your death. Red Acorns are dotted around amongst the purple ones to replenish your energy and keep you hovering. Harder than it seems, but amazingly addictive.
‘Don’t die!’ sees you playing through the chosen level without needing to go and see Thorne- but you have to collect enough acorns to enable your drill AND destroy all the engine rooms with just one life. If you can master the timing to dodge between drill enemies and pounding pistons, this mode will be a breeze.
‘Clock of doom’ gives you a time limit to complete the level, again without needing to go and see Thorne for objectives and drill enabling. A real challenge, especially on later levels!

The game is so simple yet so effective. Even with my normally short attention span for games that require timing to survive, I was determined to get past those drills and grab that silver acorn at the edge of the screen. While Tic can only take 3 hits without dying, it’s enough to make you think “I KNOW I can do this, I’ll make it this time”- and that happens every time until you succeed. It is fantastically addictive, yet short enough to pick up and enjoy when you have half an hour or so to kill. The end of the third chapter prompted a response of “Oh no, I want to play the next bit!”- a sign of a game that is thoroughly engaging.

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s only 240 MSP on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace- that’s just over ¬£2, well worth it for a game with so much potential and amusement value. I honestly cannot fault it, and I am eagerly awaiting Part 2.

Tic

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~ by Tegan on June 22, 2011.

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