A Lemming in Sheep’s clothing?
Team17 are well known for their Worms games. But just recently they have been branching out by publishing a wider range of titles from smaller, indie developers. However, that doesn’t mean that the Worms creators are just concentrating on publishing, they are also still putting their own developers to work. Whilst I am sure that another Worms game is on the way, their latest title is all about Sheep.
Flockers is set within the Worms universe, but revolves around the infamous exploding sheep and, specifically, the factory where they are created. Now, these wooly creatures don’t start out life as exploding mammals, and therein lies the premise of the game. The sheep want to survive and they need the players help to reach the exit at the end of each level because they are a little bit dim.
And so begins a game that many will recognize as a clone of the famous Lemmings title from all those years ago. If you have never played a Lemmings game, the concept is quite simple. Sheep will drop into the start of a level and mindlessly walk until they hit a barrier, or get killed. Crates will be collected that give the player a set number of skills which can be assigned to the sheep to overcome these obstacles and help them continue their walk to the level exit. The player moves a cursor around the screen to highlight a sheep and give them a skill, and the idea is that at least one sheep make it to the exit before the player moves on to the next level.
Of course, if the player manages to get more than one sheep to the exit, then they will get a better score, as they will if they make it to the end in a faster time. A global leaderboard provides the motivation to replay the levels and get a better score. There are also epic boss levels, hidden levels and golden sheep to be found, so there is plenty of gaming here alongside the 60 levels.
The selection of skills seems a little lacking. Players can assign their sheep to jump over small gaps, put on their cape and fly up vertical walls, explode or be returned to their normal sheepy life. There is also the chance to stack sheep up in different formations, such as a solid wall to stop further sheep from passing, or a staircase to reach higher levels. It may seem that this paltry selection of skills will not give much variety, and the player is introduced to them all in the very first level. But the clever stuff comes with the way they are combined to overcome the puzzles in the levels. Stacking the formations, exploding the lower member of a stack to launch the other sheep into the air, the game does require some clever thinking, especially in the later levels where the difficulty is ramped up.
But the real stars are the levels, each of which has been fiendishly designed to bring about the demise of your sheep, generally in the most bloody way possible. Being able to reach the end of the level is only part of the story, as avoiding death from sweeping blades, protruding spikes or dropping weights will be the difference between completing the level and hitting the top of the leaderboards. In keeping with the theme of the Worms games, things can get pretty gruesome in Flockers.
When it comes to the controls, Flockers is undoubtedly more suited to the mouse controls found on the PC. With the Xbox One controller, using the stick to move a cursor around the screen is not ideal, and many a sheep will fall due to imprecise controls. But this is expected as games of this type have never really felt natural on the consoles. Despite this, Flockers is incredibly playable and Team17 have made the best they can of the situation.
Visually, the game has a real Worms theme about it. The levels are highly detailed, and incredibly complex, and the little sheep look supremely cute against the backdrop of death and destruction. It’s a nice looking game.
Considering how long the Lemmings games have been around for, it is surprising that there are not more clones around. Flockers fills a nice gap in the market and, although it doesn’t really do anything new, it is surprisingly entertaining. The novelty won’t last long, but is enjoyable while it does. Save some sheep.