During an average game of Flotilla, you’ll come across fowl (sic) chicken space pirates, rescue mercenary cats from ambushes and win karaoke competitions on distant planets.
In games like Mass Effect, each of these scenarios would result in hours of complex, branching gameplay where the impact of your decisions rippled through the rest of the game. In Flotilla, they’re over in a cartoonish instant, some giving you access to new upgrades and equipment for your fleet, and many just providing some background colour to your surreal space-faring adventure.
Flotilla is a quirky and addictive indie game from Blendo Games. In it, you play a commander of a small fleet, determined to make your mark on the galaxy in the seven short months you have left to live (a mechanic to keep the gameplay short, sharp and focused).
The turn-based gameplay is in two parts. The first, mentioned above, sees you hopping from planet to planet, dealing with the random – and often amusing – encounters you have there. Many will result in you gaining new ships to join your fleet or salvaging cargo to add to your ships’ power. An equal number will see you enter into the second phase of the gameplay: tactical, turn-based ship-to-ship combat.
This is the meat of the game. Here, the viewpoint shifts to an abstract three-dimensional view of space, accompanied by some soothing 2001-esque classical piano music. Your fleet, coloured blue, start off in one randomly generated position; your red-hued foes in another. Taking it in turns, you plot your course and offensive / defensive strategy, trying to outmaneuver and outwit your enemy.
Ships are most vulnerable when attacked from below or from the rear, so you are constantly trying to gain advantage, using a simple but effective control mechanism to drag and plot your course on the x, y and z planes. You can choose to flank, giving you a speed boost at the expense of attack capability; or focus your fire, which has the reverse effect. You also gain access to the mighty ‘Strife’ weapon as you notch up kills, which has the ability to deal heavy damage to one of your enemies.
Once your commands are entered, the action plays out in slow motion 30-second bursts, with both you and your opponents moving along their pre-plotted paths, firing on each other when in range. Although you can’t control the action during this phase, it is enjoyable, nailbiting – and strangely hypnotic – to see how effective your tactics prove. If at least one of your ships survive, the next turn commences and you engage in yet another round of tactical galactical warfare.
And so it goes, alternating between ‘adventures’ and combat, all in the pursuit of a grander fleet, more powerful equipment and a place on the online high-score leaderboard. A skirmish mode exists allowing you to set up rival fleet combinations and duke it out, and the ability to play cooperatively with a friend in split-screen mode is also on offer.
Flotilla is delightfully old school in terms of graphics, yet refreshingly original in gameplay. Diverting to the point of ‘one more turn’ addictiveness, it comes highly recommended from us, and we will be battling against the fearsome space rhinos and mad galactic crocodiles for some time to come.
This game was provided for review by GamersGate