Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
The opening level of Drinkbox Studio’s first game, Tales From Space: About A Blob, saw the titular blob squidging around under the noses of humans oblivious to the alien being in their midst. In some ways this could be seen to be analogous with the game itself, which launched on the PlayStation Network with relatively little fanfare and, although receiving solid reviews, remained something of an underdog. Those who did take the game for a spin will no doubt have fond memories of its 50’s sci-fi inspired aesthetics and consistently strong game design. The game might not have garnered the attention it deserved, but you can’t keep a good blob down and so it is that the gelatinous mutants strike again on the PlayStation Vita.
Though Mutant Blobs Attack is focused on a slightly angrier looking, spiky, cyclopean mutant blob, the opening salvo of levels closely match those of the first game. In fact, the entire game could be seen as a remake of sorts, with an extremely similar narrative arc and pacing. The story opens with our plucky globule escaping from a lab and setting about sating his desire to ingest everything and anything that stumbles into his path; at the outset he is tiny and therefore only large enough to absorb the smallest morsels, such as screws, coins, peanut-shells and (rather worryingly) teeth. Just as mighty oaks from little acorns grow, so it is with the blob, with every object he absorbs increasing his stature and enabling him to tackle increasingly larger comestibles.
Just as with the first game, the eat-grow-eat mechanic plays a key role in Mutant Blobs Attack, facilitating both a clear and concise objective as well as propelling the game’s narrative. It also shares the original’s level of variety. About A Blob enthusiastically explored a range of mechanics and its blob was adaptable enough to facilitate this – as well as being able to magnetise to and repulse from metal objects, he could also absorb and emit electrical charges to affect machinery, and these abilities were put to excellent use with very few puzzle concepts being re-used throughout the game. On this basis, the PlayStation Vita – with its dizzying number of inputs – must have felt like manna from Heaven for Drinkbox Studios; here was a handheld that could not only do justice to its game’s charming visuals, but also provide a huge canvas on which to render its imaginative design work. In this respect, the studio doesn’t disappoint, with Mutant Blobs Attack ably showcasing the breadth of gameplay that the system can provide.
Such multi-input design can sometimes result in a game feeling unfocused or as if it is flailing in any direction in a hope of finding one that works. This is far from the case here, with uses of the Vita’s touchscreen and gyro-sensors being imaginatively layered on top of the rock-solid platforming and puzzling. One minute you’ll be touchscreen-dragging platforms around a level, the next attempting to solve a spatial puzzle, guiding a blob around a maze using the gyro-sensor or putting his new-found flight-abilities to the test. The upshot of this is that the game – like its hero – feels wonderfully fluid, shifting between play-styles and genres with an effortless ease.
The degree of challenge that the game presents is also nicely balanced, never feeling too easy or frustratingly difficult, making it at once approachable and satisfying. This does mean however that most players will find themselves steadily progressing through the game and reaching its conclusion possibly sooner than they would like. Though Mutant Blobs Attack can be polished off in a few extended play sessions, it is a very streamlined package with very little filler that delivers a steady flow of new ideas to keep you engaged. The game’s length is also easier to stomach when taking into account its budget price tag and once completed, you can also extend your time with the game by replaying missions with an eye on your high-score, which can then be uploaded to a PSN leaderboard.
All in all, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack is a polished and well considered sequel to the underrated original that’s humorous, hugely playable and frothing with ideas. It’s also well positioned as a PS Vita launch title, not only showcasing the system’s versatility but helping to set a bench mark on the level of quality gamers should expect from lower-cost Vita titles. It may be cheap but it feels anything but and shouldn’t have too much difficulty in standing up to the scrutiny of 99p-App Store-naysayers. The PS Vita isn’t short of great titles, but Mutant Blobs Attack is easy to recommend to newcomers and old-hands alike, and if Drinkbox can maintain this level of quality, maybe the Blob will take over the world after all.
This review is based on the PS Vita version which was provided by Drinkbox Studios.
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