Tiny Speck, a company formed by Flickr co-founders, has made one of those games where you're not ever sure of what you're doing. They call it "a curious online game for curious people." It's so different from anything else out there that I have no way of zero-ing in on something to liken it to! A sandbox game? A massively multiplayer playground?
I've struggled with how to write about this game since I've started playing it. It's something I'm definitely enjoying, and I think it's interesting enough to recommend to others, but it's just so off-the-wall that I don't know where to begin. The beginning? You start out by creating a character, but even from that point you're already asking questions. What's up with the strange names? Why is that guy's face green? Then you start the game and realize that it's all wierd. Every bit of it. It walks a line that perfectly balances cute, funny, strange and interesting at all times. It's enough to keep you going, even if you're not quite sure what you're doing. I feel okay in knowing that my write-up may serve only to confuse you. Maybe you'll stop reading it out of confusion and try the game for yourself.
Glitch is arty, silly, happy, interesting, and imaginative, all at once. It's a game for people that like to be creative and think for themselves. What makes it different from any other MMO out there is that there's not anything that you're required to do. You just kind of...do things in a persistent world. And they're all fun and funny. See a pig. You can walk over to it and pet it. Or nibble on it, and get some tasty morsels to eat later. Come across a tree? Water it or harvest from it? Sure, just like in other social online games. But you can also pet the trees to make them happy. Or chat with them to hear the latest conspiracy theory. Yeah, this game is weird. And if you're curious, you'll begin to explore to find more weird. That's what I did.
The game is a 2D sidescroller, and there's actually a bit of platforming, like climbing, or jumping from trees or hills. It looks a bit like a console platformer with its smooth animation, and the control is quite responsive, but platforming is not the focus of the game -- it just gets you around. Still, you can have fun running and jumping around if you wish. It's up to you.
Glitch is like a massive playground. Just like in the playgrounds of your childhood, you're going to have a good time if you want to. Your only duty is to play, and in this game, playing is walking around, exploring, talking to people (and things!) and finding something to do for yourself. Those that rely on a story or a series of quests are going to be a bit lost in Glitch. There are quests, but they just sort of pop up out of nowhere, and as you can imagine in a game that takes place in the minds of imaginative giants, they make no sense. You just do them, and you have fun doing them. In one quest I was shrunk down to be the size of a mouse. I walked around a kitchen to find an item for a talking dust bunny. He was grateful.
This is one funny game. Everything talks, and just about every word said is unexpected. Your game guide is a talking rock. Even the item descriptions will make you laugh. Whimsical is a perfect description. It's like walking around in the mind of a person that's not quite crazy, but definitely not all there. He's a good guy, though, so being in his mind is totally safe. And funny.
There's no killing or war or anything like that in Glitch. Actually, there's not much in the way of set goals. You can explore, learn, chat, collect, or create, but how and when you do those things is totally up to you. Skills are important, though. As you build these skills (done offline), you're able to do more and see more in the world. The more you see and do, the more you can create and experience. Yes, there's a lot of clicking and harvesting, but this is not Farmville, and you're never locked into some silly leveling race. It's all jump-in type fun, and no time commitment is required. Just know that what you and other players do actually shapes the world, just like it would when you were on the playground with your friends.
The look of Glitch is very nice, as it mixes drawn art and animation to make something that feels too fluid and pretty to be inside the confines of a browser.
If you get nothing else from this article, get these two points. First, don't write this game off as a title for soccer moms and Farmville freaks, or call it a kid's game. It's neither. This is a real game that oozes creativity, and not some social spam title. Sure, it's not for everyone, but there's a rewarding experience here, and I'd hate for people to miss it because they wrote it off as a Facebook game. The other point I want to make clear is that if you're in any way interested after reading this, you should definitely try Glitch out. And give it some time if you do. Spend an hour or two goofing off and I bet you'll have a good time.
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