Scotsman Games review: Flockers, Xbox One

A still from Flockers. Picture: Contributed

A still from Flockers. Picture: Contributed

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FOR a young generation, the Lemmings franchise is a curio of history, spoken about in hushed tones by those old enough to remember the first great masterpiece of Dundee’s DMA Design studios.

Game review with tips and tricks

Flockers - Xbox One (reviewed / Playstation 4 / PC

Score: 8.0 / 10

With its cunning blend of strategy and personality, the game was a multiplatform smash, shifting millions of copies. It has borne no true successor; perhaps the closest has been Team 17’s Worms, but even that series is a different beast in that it is turn-based and places a greater emphasis on artillery and munition-led play.

Now, Team 17 are looking to scratch the itch of those with fond memories of the iconic 1990s title. Its new game, Flockers, once more asks the player to act as the shepherd to a careless, stampeding horde. Instead of ambling rodents, the mass consists of the sheep from the Worms games, hopeful of escaping the warmongering plans of those who would have them boxed up in crates and used as explosives.

To spirit them to safety, the player is granted a now familiar array of tools which can be supplemented by falling crates throughout the scores of levels. Each imbues the sheep with special powers, whether it be an ability to jump over gaps, form a sheep staircase, or scurry up sheer vertical walls. Even so, they are relatively subdued and pared back compared to Worms. As the scenarios become increasingly fiendish, the process of deciding which ability works best becomes more frantic and there is an element of trial and error at play.

With a steampunk inspired graphical style and detail aplenty in the 3D planes of perspective, there is plenty of eye candy on display in the game. On consoles, what could have been a finicky control scheme is well translated and after a few levels, switching between different abilities becomes fast and intuitive. The only issue that grates with a controller is scrolling around the screen with the left and right thumbsticks to keep an eye on your wooly charges, with the camera moving too fast at times.

There are other moments which frustrate, not least the apparently random environmental hazards which cull your flock without warning. It is annoying to nearly reach the end of a level with minimal casualties only to see dozens of sheep killed by a buzzsaw, for example. Flockers will undoubtedly be best received by those who toiled through the increasingly difficult stages of Lemmings. It is an unashamed tribute to that game and although it does not quite hit the heights of DMA Design’s title, it heralds a welcome and overdue return of the iconic A to B puzzler genre.

TIPS AND TRICKS

1) If the pace of the game is a bit too much and your sheep are in peril, make use of the pause function to take stock of possible hazards and plan a strategy.

2) You will often have to assign the one ability to multiple sheep. Rather than clicking repeatedly on each animal, chance your cursor size to large to bulk set abilities.

3) The game encourages replays of levels in an attempt to get as near perfect a run as possible - look out for the Golden Fleece collectables.

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