Who knew that there was so much turmoil under the sea? Squids has been dubbed a ‘Casual RPG’ by its creators The Game Bakers, but honestly it plays more like Angry Birds than anything else. That’s not a bad thing though…
I have killed many a crustacean and watched it go poof into a cloud of smoke and death. My squids would fly across the map, precisely targeting any known enemies. Many of my enemies would fly off the map, into deeper waters, never to be seen again. Their pearls would be mine for the taking, and would enable my trusty band of thieves to buy more… hats?
Squids is a physics-based RPG-lite, which means two things: that it shares a lot of elements with Angry Birds, and all the characters have individual stats. In each level, you are given the task of either reaching a certain area or killing enough enemies to continue forward. It can be a lot of fun, and the basic RPG elements add a small level of depth to that. However, the game is most certainly not perfect. Specifically, the game suffers from an absence of originality that the RPG elements cannot fix. Regardless, it’s easy to get sucked in to the undersea escapades of Squids.
The story of Squids is not the strongest element of the game, with a plot involving a group of squid thieves (squids that steal things, not things that steal squids) who are breaking into a vault in order to find riches. Instead, they find themselves in the middle of a hostile invasion by a strange ooze which possesses unlucky sea life. The characters are not very well developed, and the story is presented through a series of storyboard-like cutscenes, and text based exposition. It never really drew me in.
The gameplay however is an entirely different story, which combines RPG-lite elements into a physics based puzzle game, creating a slight twist on games that you’ve seen before. By clicking on a squid and pulling back, you can cause the squid to fly forward at different rates of speed, causing various amounts of damage to surrounding monsters. Maps have various bottles on them, which give squids a random power-up when they run into them. My favorite was the sushi, which gave squids double the stamina per slide. It allows you to put a lot of oomph into each throw. Each squid also has a special ability. Some can dash forward multiple times through puzzles and into enemies, while some can heal other squids when you bump into them. Yes, there is a healer based class in this game.
The RPG elements come up mostly outside of combat, where you can use the pearls (money) that you collect in game to buy various hats… that you collected in game. It’s kind of strange system where you have to collect the hat on the map, and then buy the hat in the store. It does not make a whole lot of sense to me. You can also use pearls to level up your characters, each of which has a distinct level and stats. This doesn’t involve anything more than hitting a button; you don’t get to choose which stats you level up, and there are no new abilities to obtain. All in all, calling it an RPG, even a casual RPG, is a bit of a reach.
Through 20+ levels, you’ll be navigating the squids through all kinds of dangerous areas and turmoil. One thing that is constant though is the gorgeous visuals, which highlight a fun and vibrant depiction of the sea. You’ll go through old ruins, navigate ancient vaults and even travel on the back of a gigantic sea turtle. The last one in particular is especially beautiful, and these visuals enhance the experience. Also of note is the soundtrack, which has a fantastic Caribbean theme. Especially in some of the darker and more sinister maps, the battle themes are just fantastic
However, while I was playing Squids, I encountered two fairly serious bugs. The first will only affect people who keep their taskbar on the left of the screen. Unless you move the taskbar to the bottom, the game will not function properly. The second bug was on level 12, where I would move my first squid, and then could no longer select anything. The game no longer worked, and I have been unable to fix it. The score does reflect these two bugs, and will be changed if they are rectified in the future.
There’s a lot to like with Squids, and most of it has to do with the fantastic foundation of gameplay that The Game Bakers have laid down. Simply put, the game is a lot of fun. When the music is going, and the visuals are whirring by, it’s easy to get lost in the game. However, it is also very familiar feeling, and the RPG elements do not do enough to distinguish it. The bugs also cause much of the game to be inaccessible. It’s frustrating, and it’s also sad. In the end, there are better games out there that have more content and more polish, even if they are lacking the RPG elements. In the end, regardless of the bugs, Squids is a solid game; however it is not an exceptional one.