October 23rd, 2012 | By Sam Adonis
Some games have the ability to catch my attention the moment I see them. Love at first sight in a weird way. It’s worth mentioning that every couple of weeks I will have a new infatuation. Right now I am in a painful relationship with Ankama’s upcoming platformer, Fly’n. The moment I saw screenshots for Fly’n on its Steam Greenlight page, I knew I had to have it.
Fly’n starts off by telling the story of Dyer, the comically evil ‘cosmic bin man’ who wants to steal the sap from a sacred World Tree in the land of Helycia. Dyer uses a giant vacuum to suck everything from the World Tree into his rusty space-garbage truck. You play as four Buds, each created by the World Tree to find Dyer and stop him from spreading his environmental waste.
An interesting feature to mention about the story in Fly’n is that the entire thing has no dialog, and no text. The only time any words or letters even appeared in gameplay was to tell me which buttons to press for different abilities. And then it was just a sign pointing to the button on my gamepad.
Each Bud moves around the game differently. One Bud is capable of puffing himself up to be temporarily invincible, and then bouncing through the level. Another is able to climb up walls and even across ceilings, almost like a slug. The third has the ability to charging through certain spots of the map to reach new areas. The fourth, who is my personal favorite, will sing. Each time she sings in one of the set areas, everything around her comes alive and starts to dance or move for her.
The game does not play like Trine, where you can switch different characters whenever you feel like it. Instead you must go through checkpoints that will switch your Bud for you. I am conflicted about the developers choice for this feature. On one hand, it streamlines the game and makes it feel more restricted. But at the same time this design decision makes things a lot less confusing, since you know which Bud to use at different points.
You go through levels solving platforming puzzles using the Buds given to you, with the constant goal of reaching a higher spot on the World Tree. You are often slowed down by glowing red trash left by Dyer that will kill your Bud immediately upon touch. There are also orbs scattered throughout the levels that will give you points for collecting. Many are hidden, though some are used to point the player in the right direction. Between each level is a gliding segment, where your current Bud will fly up to reach the next level of the game.
What I saw of the gameplay was simple, but enjoyable enough. The real charm of Fly’n came from the game’s presentation. The visuals of Fly’n are currently its biggest selling point for me. The art is beautiful, and the animations are filled with charm. I suppose you could describe the entire game as charming. The art style, the mean-looking antagonist, and absolutely adorable protagonists all contribute.
I didn’t get to hear much of the music, as each orb you collect makes a chime with a louder volume than anything else in the game. And there are a lot of orbs scattered throughout the levels. I was able to hear the music during the introductory cut scene, and I absolutely loved what I heard there.
I know I keep saying it, but everything about Fly’n oozes charm. I haven’t seen a game with characters this adorable since the similarly themed Botanicula was released. I hope Ankama keeps up the good work, because Fly’n is filled with potential to be the next great indie game. You can follow Fly’n on it’s development blog or Twitter. It is scheduled for a release this November.