Whoo! With a deal in the pipeline to feature my reviews on the AGS blog (that's right....the AGS blog) and more and more people visiting the site, my popularity is on the up! I'd like to thank my early readers, and assure you that the best is yet to come.
Which is what brings me to my latest play, Featherweight. Set in a post-apocalyptic future it deals with Thadd, a Featherweight scout (as in small and useful for recon rather than fighting, although the boxing-savvy will have already grasped the inferrence) for the humans in the war against the machines. And for everyone who's mind immediately sprang to California's current governor, this is like Terminator but it isn't Terminator. The two plots are similar, but Featherweight has more than enough individuality and flair about it to define itself separately. This is helped by the amazing scenery; Ben Chandler (or Ben304) pulls out all the stops in immersing us in the world of Featherweight, and it gives the game a fantastic edge. Debris, burned out cars, cracked architecture and more are used to achieve the desired effect, yet are also functional to the puzzles.
But back to the story. A young female scout has been captured by the robots and Thadd, disgusted by the complacency of his partner, goes on a one-man crusade to rescue his compatriot. Using ingenuity and stealth, Thadd must brave the dangers of the robot base.
A wildly inventive plot and gorgeous and oppressive artwork are two of the main reasons this game works so well, but they're not the main positive. Featherweight is in a similar standard of difficulty to Robbing the Princess, although the puzzles are different. I found myself sympathising fully with Thadd as he cursed himself for failing to advance. Featherweight features wonderfully crafted puzzles designed in logic and cruel problem-solving. There's a massive emphasis on trial and error; it took me five tries to disable the bars to my makeshift cell before dispairingly turning to a walkthru. Even though we're only dealing with two buttons, I would have been trying combinations for days. Despite the emphasis on trial and error, the game is particularly unforgiving in terms of the latter part. Detection is rewarded by having to catch yourself up via a gruelling journey from your cell, something that extends the game but frustrates, no doubt to the intense glee of the designer.
Despite all these great things there is a criticism to make, and it is a big one. While I'm sure it's recieved mixed reviews by players, I have to admit disliking the music intently. It's suitably futuristic, but is bizarrely light-hearted and perky. I perceived Featherweight to be a particularly dark game; in this critic's humble opinion it would have been benefited so much with a grittier, more oppressive tune.
But that's just one aspect. Featherweight is an extremely well made game and creates a futuristic setting that is both original and believable. I'd recommend it more to MENSA members than casual gamers, but to both groups it's incredibly entertaining.
Final Score: 8/10