Sunday, March 18, 2012

Save My Telly Review

Save My Telly, developed and published by Behold Studios.
The Good: Really varied objectives, free-form construction
The Not So Good: Few levels with repetitive hazards, exaggerated physics makes item placement difficult, stability issues when full-screen
What say you? This objective-based physics construction puzzle game could benefit from more features and less sensitive physics: 5/8

Before the depths of the Internet rotted our brains, a sinister idiot box was responsible for lowering intelligence across the globe: television (movies, too, I guess, but this is my introduction!). What would we do without television? Spend time with our families? Enjoy the great outdoors? The horror! No, television must be protected. And protected it shall be, by you, of course. Nature is trying to ruin our fun through rain, earthquakes, wind, and alien attacks. Save My Telly has you constructing makeshift buildings to keep the elements away from the precious. And then we take the precious...and we be the master!

Save My Telly utilizes simple 2-D graphics, clearly rooted in the game's browser-based pedigree. All of the game's graphics consist of plain bitmaps that may exhibit some nice, albeit repetitive, animations (such as the main character's reaction to the various disasters). You can see informative visual damage to items as well, and the backgrounds flow well with the theme of the game. The interface makes it easy to understand what's going on without a reliance on text. I should note that I suffered many stability issues (crashes to the desktop) while playing the 64-bit version full-screen (thankfully the game saves your objectives as they are completed), but did not encounter any issues when playing in a window. The few sound effects are appropriate for the on-screen action, and the musical themes for each map are almost memorable and not annoying. Overall, $4 is an appropriate amount to describe the graphics that Save My Telly has to offer.

The goal of Save My Telly? To save your telly, of course! And no, not the one that loves triangles. The game features only four levels that feature flat, hilly, icy, and small island terrain. Each level also recycles the same handful of hazards as well (snow in the icy level, aliens in the flat level) so things get repetitive quickly. You always start with the same items on a single map, but from there it’s up to you, so after a couple of levels things will look quite different for different players based on the disasters that are presented. What saves Save My Telly from sheer monotony are the fun objectives. You are given three at a time, and they may include surviving a specific number of rounds, destroying your TV a certain way, only using specific types of items, or surviving by using no items at all (which just becomes a matter of luck, depending on which hazards randomly spawn). You must complete all three objectives to unlock three more, and completing objectives unlocks new items and levels. Some of the later objectives are very difficult (requiring perfection over several levels), so you could potentially get stuck with one last objective in each group of three and unable to progress any further in the game. Still, the objectives make Save My Telly a far more interesting game than simply surviving each round, which gets repetitive and frankly boring.

You are given sixty seconds between rounds to order and arrange your items, which is plenty of time to alter your design for the next threat. Things are moved by clicking and dragging with the mouse, and rotation is accomplished using the A and D keys (I will note that Save My Telly lacks a “quit” button; I assume the developer thinks you’ll be playing the game forever and ever). Items are varied and intuitive: hay bales, crates, wood, rocks, and metal beams are provided to shelter your television. You are given income between rounds based on the number of survived items, and newly purchased items are airdropped in (which can damage the things they land on). Each hazard the game throws at you has an appropriate counter: wood stops rain, steel stops wind, straw stops earthquakes, rocks stop grasshoppers, snow stops snow, a tall stack of things stops rising water, and a bunch of stuff on top of your television stop aliens and meteor impacts. As you progress through a single map, more damage is caused by these disasters, and eventually you will lose your T.V. Your character is able to repair, glue together, or screw together items every couple of rounds, so you can progress a while with the same items. The physics in the game are…interesting, a little too “bouncy” for my tastes. Placing objects with precision is difficult because things bouncy off each other too easily, as if they weight next to nothing. You can easily knock expensive items off the screen as you try to rearrange your defenses, and getting things to fit together just right can be a pain. While some might find the over-the-top physics to be satisfactory, I would like to see an option to tone things down a tad.

Save My Telly is an interesting puzzle game thanks to freedom in constructing your defenses against the elements and the assorted objectives the game provides. Success isn't simply survival: in order to progress through the game and unlock new levels and items, you must complete a series of objectives with specific conditions like only using a specific item type, not purchasing new things, or destroying your TV during a certain turn. This adds a lot of variety to the game and makes you replay the same four levels over and over and over again. While there are eventually a number of different conditions you must combat and items to combat them with, the hazards repeat themselves quite often. Once you figure out which items are best for every hazard (which takes about five minutes to do), Save My Telly becomes easy. Dealing with the wacky physics may not be easy, though, as items have little to no weight, easily jostling around while you are attempting to carefully place protective structures. I thought this part of the game could have been toned down significantly to make item placement less annoying. I did have some severe stability issues when playing in full-screen mode, but these were remedied by going to a window. At $4, Save My Telly offers just enough replay value, thanks to its objectives, to appeal to physics-based puzzle fans.