Friday, November 14, 2008

Feyruna 2 - The Druids Review

Feyruna 2 - The Druids, developed and published by Jochen Kärcher.
The Good: Intuitive controls, fairly unique with three different game modes
The Not So Good: Tedious and repetitive in most levels, very slow pace, can’t skip levels, no level editor, bland graphics and sound
What say you? An action puzzle game with a number of good ideas that don't come together as well as they should have: 5/8

MY POORLY WRITTEN INTRODUCTION
It's not very often that you get a sequel that is almost completely different from its predecessor. But that's the case with Feyruna 2, sequel to last year's Feyruna, and game I thought pretty highly of. Instead of catching fairies with your magic wand, this time you are indirectly piloting a sphere towards various goals in a 2-D maze. I suppose Feyruna 2 uses the same background story as the original, but the sequel moniker is really unnecessary. Personally, I would have gone with “Sphere Rolling Using Teleporters and Powers and Druids Extravaganza Deluxe.” Hey, I just review the games, OK?

GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Feyruna 2 - The Druids is a 2-D game in a 2-D world and the graphics are unimpressive. While the background are not bad, they are hazy and washed out and don’t convey a sense of realism, although some of the details are nice. The problem lies with the foreground, as the terrain consists of very basic green and brown levels and poorly animated characters and other objects. The fanciful nature of Feyruna 1 did not carry over to this “sequel,” as the game looks quite outdated. I don’t need 3-D graphics with amazing effects, but something beyond simple 2-D sprites and boring terrain would suffice. Thus, the graphics in Feyruna 2 are merely functional at best. The sound is very basic as well, with few effects and standard music. When you compare Feyruna 2 to similar puzzle games like Professor Fizzwizzle (which, incidentally, came out over two years ago), this title certainly comes up short in terms of graphics and is underwhelming as a whole.

ET AL.
Feyruna 2 comes with the goal of equipping each of the druids on every level with appropriately-colored balls so that they can destroy some evil circle thing. The game is spread out over forty-five levels in a linear fashion. There is no skipping levels (this time I mean it!) and Feyruna 2 lacks an editor, which is very surprising considering how simple the level design is. The game comes in three flavors: “normal,” a bonus round with no enemies but only one turn to collect coins, and a breakout-like boss level that offers up some slight amount of variety, although Feyruna 2 is dominated by the “normal” action-puzzle levels. There is no tutorial, but the game comes with fairly interruptive tutorial messages spread throughout the first couple of levels.

You need to equip each wizard with a correctly colored ball before time runs out, although there is no clock. As the ball descends down the level, you can click on it in order to switch its direction. You can also hold down the mouse button and position the mouse in an appropriate location if you lack the timing to click directly on a moving object. Since all you do is click and click some more, Feyruna 2 can get tedious and repetitive. There are a lot of elements to each puzzle, although each game boils down to avoiding enemies and obstacles and changing your ball color using rune stones. Feyruna 2 features a fair amount of planning, as it's better to have a path planned out in advance before releasing your ball from the top of the map. This can be difficult as most of the enemies move (though on a set path) so timing may become an issue. You also must avoid causing the ball to fall too far or get hit by enemies as it will be destroyed.

The color-coded wizards can only accept balls of their color, so you must pass a ball through a rune stone and change its color. Additional properties can be added: gentle fall for heights, burst for smashing through stones, shields for protection, and lightning for offensive attacks. Each level is populated with both destructible and indestructible rocks, trap doors (that can be opened or closed with a mouse click), and teleporters (which can be turned on and off with a click as well). Gold you collect in each level can be used at a shop (located in most levels) to purchase additional rune properties. Hourglasses can allow you to replay a failed level, frozen wizards can be activated by collecting ankh (or whatever the plural of that word is), and rainbows can earn extra points and are required for boss levels.

The world of Feyruna 2 is populated with a lot of bad things. You have your basic goblins that simply patrol an area, but there are some advanced enemies that have lightning attacks, swallow balls, lay eggs that explode, and other assorted nonsense. The game is designed for more experienced players, as there is a lot to consider before releasing your ball from the top of each map: where to click, where the enemies are (and might be in the future), where the teleporters will send you to, et cetera. The level design is fairly complex, as the teleporters can make things confusing. There isn't much penalty early on for release “test balls” to see where they will end up, but there is a time limit of sorts, as you can't waste too many balls before the evil forces take over the map.

IN CLOSING
Feyruna 2 has enough parts to make for an entertaining game, but the game comes up short as a whole. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but the end result is a puzzle game that is more tedious than fun. I think the repetitive nature of the game got to me, as the level design requires more thinking than I was willing to do and you are basically doing the same thing over and over, except for the boss and bonus levels. The lack of a level editor means you are “stuck” with the levels that the designer came up with, and most of the levels only have one solution for each wizard and it's just a matter of figuring out what it is. I found Feyruna 2 to be quite difficult, and since you can't adjust the difficulty, you will have to become adept at the game rather quickly. Each individual puzzle requires activating a number of different wizards, so the game drags along and becomes tiresome. I will commend for having a number of game modes (although they are infrequent), a number of ball abilities, and a wide assortment of enemies. I just wish that I could customize the game more and give Feyruna 2 a personal feel. Maybe Feyruna 2 will click with you more (that's why there are demos), but the potential just did not add up to a completely entertaining experience for me.