Amorphous+, A Game of Unexpected Difficulty

Consider the supervillain power of being able to make games that manage to be very addictive while very unfun.

One such game super a supervillain might produce is Amorphous+.

This game is a continuous stream of a job being harder than it seems like it should be. (I remember when I tried playing this game several years ago, and ragequitted. Somehow I became more addicted this time around…) You’re just a person walking around cutting down blobs. And yet, there are a huge number of hidden difficulties together that conspire to make the job really difficult. Here’s a few I’ve been able to put my finger on as annoying:

-Timing matters, and is unintuitive. When to strike at a Gloople is easily mistimed.
-Less than half the circle around the player is strikable, and the player is always vulnerable from behind. This is particularly difficult because one has to get oneself to face the proper direction to make a strike, and one can easily think one’s facing a direction they are not.
-The player is halted upon any strike made.
-When things get bad, things quickly get worse. Getting debuffed from an encounter with a non-fatal blob makes one very likely to be dead soon.
-The boundaries of the strike zone are actually very unclear.

Maybe some of these are also the case in other games, but somehow in my eyes they only show in this game. (Also, some may consider such difficulties “fun” rather than annoying.) But in any case, this seems to be a means by which to cook a recipe for a game to be addicting even though it is painful to go through: make the player have an expectation that they will do well, and then hide difficulties that make this expectation difficult to obtain, thus wanting one to stay involved until one has proven oneself to oneself.

Previously, I have mentioned that the game is an amazing game in terms of how much strategy it allows with a high degree of simplicity. And yet, that game has its little caveats, simply caveats a player need not be aware of to play but may slowly realize. For instance, it is completely unobvious how large one must be to consume another player in, and that is in fact rather complicated to ascertain. The game would be a whole lot simpler if one simply compared one size to another. But that’s not how it goes, and the game might not even be that much of a game otherwise. I don’t mind this thing about so much, and I still think is a profoundly well-designed game. Not here. I am definitely not enjoying playing Amorphous+ (probably because there are just that many more hidden difficulties than in, and yet I’m still playing it. Grrr. Time to go back to suffering.


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