Title: The Ball
The Gist: You play an archeologist who’s digging around a dormant volcano in Mexico who suddenly falls into a cavern and discovers an ancient artifact known as (read this in a deep booming voice) ‘The Ball’ (see the voice made it sound cool didn’t it ^.^). You control (deep voice if you wish, but the effect’s probably worn off now) The Ball with a device that you pick up along the way, it lets you pull the ball towards you or fling it away like a copy of Star Wars The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes.
As you make your way through the secret volcano lair you come across many a puzzle in which The Ball must be utilised. Periodically you’ll meet monkeys which…well do very little other than run away from you…but should your sadistic mind wish it you can squish them with The Ball. Aside from monkeys you’ll come across erm…things, possibly zombies I’m not even sure…but regardless of what they are they don’t seem to like you, or perhaps they have ball envy (very much like Penis Envy except it’s with regards to a rather large ball). You’ll basically need to continue solving puzzles and squashing things until you escape because living underground with a bunch of monkeys who run away each time you try to introduce yourself gets old real fast.
Pros: The game has a good feel to it, puzzles are neither too easy or too complex and occasionally require a little time in order to solve. The monkey’s were an awesome addition to the game and gave it a little character.
Cons: The game doesn’t feel like it has much personality, it was impossible for me not to think about Portal whilst playing and all I could think was…hmm GlaDos would be saying something sarcastic right now or Wheatly would be gracing me with his comedy routine. This isn’t The Balls’s fault as such it’s just a consequence of making a game in a genre dominated by Portal.
Musical Note: The game feels like it’s got one track of music that does set the tone for the game, being all mysterious and dark…however it ends up making levels feel repetitive and I’d have appreciated a bit more variation.
Hunger Level: To be honest I felt more hungry for a game of Portal after playing this game. The campaign is quoted as lasting eight hours (as well as challenges), but I feel that I’ll need to play this game in doses in order to finish it.
Conclusion: Portal. It’s on my mind the whole time as I play this, which is probably why they did a Portal themed challenge for the Portal 2 ARG. The game is really just a crossover of Half Life 2 and Portal, The Gravity Gun and the Companion Cube, and it doesn’t seem to have anything of its own. The game is quite stale at times, the enemies during the first quarter of the game are easily vanquished with The Ball and I really wanted some sort of characterisation for the game, all I really got in my play session was a weird-looking man with a staff that I get a glimpse of now and again who I guess just reminds me of G-Man now that I think about it.
Later on in the game I was able to ride a mine cart thing along with The Ball and I was hoping for something unique. All I got was a few enemies in the cart’s path which obviously died as I reached them, Duke Nukem Forever got away with this because it was parodying this type of situation but even then they overused it. The game still sits at its original price on Steam (£14.99/$19.99/) and feels a little hefty for what it is however it’s been on offer several times this year so if you do want to pick it up may as well wait till its next sale.
“One Hour, One Review, One ‘Game-A-Week’ @ Black Vinculum”