Andrew Smith reviews a game developed by Keith Stuart and Theo Chin
[For their final piece, our developer-cum-journalists had to write a review on a game created by the journalist-cum-developers and students – You can find all the JournoDevSwap articles here.]
Format: PC & Browser
Release date: Out Now
Developer: Team Astromech
Sometimes a game comes along out of the blue, and really challenges your perceptions about what you as a gamer can achieve (or put up with).
Demon's Souls (and its excellent sequel Dark Souls) is one such game - it changed how people viewed difficulty in games, and how far they'd go to master something that was inherently tough, but implemented with fairness and consistency.
Double Droids is the Demon's Souls of the auto-runner genre. With a deceptively simple control scheme (just two buttons 'swap' the player characters above/below their track) the player must guide two cute, Machinarium-style robots through a deadly maze of traps.
Each droid trundles along a unique route, separated from each other along the horizontal, and even the traps come in two varieties; one simply pushes you back towards the deadly left hand edge of the screen, while another far more deadly and explosive obstacle kills your protagonists as soon as you touch it.
If just one of the machine-dudes is sent to the big scrapyard in the sky then it's game over for both of them.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
TIPS & TRICKS: Try to keep both robots aligned vertically to make life easier, and remember; speed boosts can often get you into a sticky situation! Think before you collect!
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Of course the further you progress the more points you get, and occasional speed boosts add an extra element to proceedings by not only boosting you further for more points, but also - in a suitably double-edged twist - edging your two bots out of synch, making the task of managing both of their hurried journeys even tougher.
Of course you can always use the non-lethal obstacles to try and realign things, but the ever-increasing speed of the game means that this is a tactic only attempted by the reckless or those that have mastered the game's tight controls.
That said, there are a few missteps. The graphical style - though remarkably distinctive - uses a fairly muddy palette to paint the game's world, and the whole thing could do with a little environmental variation to reward the player good enough to delve further into the game.
The controls are frame-perfect but occasionally a collision will still feel unfair - especially when contending with the deadlier traps.
This game is a barebones love letter to auto-runners, with the dual-control system adding a much needed fresh twist to this well-worn genre. If you've never liked auto-runners this game won't convince you otherwise, but as an example of the form it is sharp, unforgiving and addictive.
Graphics - 69%
A dystopian future world rendered in blacks, browns and greys, scattered with splashes of blue and red neon. Eye-catching, but a little same-y over-extended play.
Sounds - 50%
The lack of a music track certainly adds to the future-shock aesthetic, but the otherwise too-sparse soundscape really would benefit from something to bounce off of.
Playability - 87%
Perfectly simple controls, combined with a forgiving difficulty curve and an unforgiving ruleset mean you rarely feel cheated.
Lastability - 84%
That perfect one-more-go feeling is only slightly marred by a lack of long-term goals or variety, but high score fiends won't even notice.
Overall - 85%
Double Droids is an addictive, devilish time sink that turns your brain into spaghetti, but you'll love it all the same. Play it, but don't blame me if you burn your dinner.
You can keep up to date with all the news stories/interviews/blogs/previews/reviews on the JournoDevSwap tag.
You can also keep up with the latest goings on through Twitter at hashtag #JournoDevSwap - As well as viewing the latest images and videos on http://journodevswap.tumblr.com
Let us know what you think of our new Develop editors in the comments section below and on Twitter.