Tales from Space: About a Blob – The PS3 Attitude Review
The 2D puzzle platformer Tales from Space: About a Blob releases later today in North America, as part of the first PlayStation Plus update of February, and will release on the Store proper next week. The title is the very first original game developed by Toronto based DrinkBox Studios, and is exclusive to the PlayStation Network. But what did we think of it?
As you may have guessed, in Tales from Space: About a Blob you play as (there really isn’t any other way to describe it) a blob… from space. In the opening cutscene, a large cluster of these blobs is seen shooting towards Earth. Unfortunately, one of them gets separated from its fellows and is caught by an evil human scientist, who imprisons it in his laboratory.
And this is where you begin the game. Simply put, the aim of each level is to reach the end, while getting the highest score and shortest time possible. You press X to jump and square to run, use buttons to open doors, and many obstacles such as rocket turrets attempt to halt your progress. So, you may be thinking it’s just a bog-standard platformer, right?
Wrong. You see, space blobs like to eat stuff – lots of stuff. Hold down L2, and your blob will eat anything it touches (assuming it is physically big enough to do so). In the first level, you’re only a few centimetres tall and so cannot eat anything bigger than a drawing pin. However, the more you eat the bigger you get, so as the game progresses, you’ll eventually be able to eat people, then tanks, and by the end of the game you’ll be vacuuming up skyscrapers as if they were peanuts.
You also have a number of abilities to help traverse each level and solve puzzles. Firstly, by pressing R2 you can spit out objects you have previously absorbed. This is your main weapon against enemies, and can be used to access out-of-reach switches. You can also slam by pressing circle after jumping, which is used to damage enemies as well as destroy breakable objects. However, things start to get really interesting once you learn the magnetic and electric abilities.
With the magnetic ability, by using L1 and R1 you can attract or repel metallic objects, or even attract or repel yourself to or away from magnetic surfaces. Similarly, when using the electric ability, you can use L1 to charge yourself from an electrical item, and use R1 to give other electrical objects a boost of power. The game offers up a lot of puzzles based around these abilities, many of which are a great challenge and require you to use all of your abilities at once.
Once you finally make it to the end of the level, you are awarded either a bronze, silver, gold or (incredibly difficult) platinum cup, depending on how many collectibles you’ve found. If you’re fast enough you’ll also win a chequered flag to prove that you’ve beaten the (again, incredibly difficult) target time. Completists and gamers who enjoy a challenge are in for a treat, because unlocking everything on each level will take several playthroughs.
As you may have surmised by now, humour is a big part of the game. The cartoon art style and monster movie-esque presentation give the game a charming appeal, and for the most part it works well. It also looks great in HD, and the moving animated backgrounds help give life to a game world that would otherwise be a bit flat. You’ll visit several places throughout the game, such as a farm, a power plant and even a military base, and each area has its own unique look.
The sound design is also pretty good, with decent effects and a number of catchy tunes. Unfortunately that catchiness gets repetitive a little too quickly, which is why it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the game supports custom soundtracks. It’s slightly disappointing to not have any voice-acting (or even dialogue) in cutscenes, but this alone isn’t enough to ruin the game.
Tales from Space: About a Blob is a lot of fun, and is definitely recommended for fans of 2D platforming games. Our first playthrough of the game’s seventeen levels took about five hours, but it’ll take much longer than that to get 100% on all levels and earn all thirteen of the game’s PlayStation Trophies.
It even has a demo, so there’s no excuse not to at least try this game out. With unlockable PlayStation Home rewards, online leaderboards for time trials, and the option to play the whole game in two player co-op, this is a great first title from this promising indie developer, and we look forward to whatever they do next.