Well here it is folks my first review! And I can’t think of a better game to review on than ‘Collect or Die’ from ‘Super Smith Bros’. I started to follow these guys in 2015 some time because I saw that they can make quality mobile games. So among the other followers on twitter I kind of lost them in the crowd until they started posting about Collect or Die. I love these kind of games and was super excited to see it coming from a worth while game company and not something that was just shovel-ware.
Now my reviews are going to be a little different from other reviews that probably talk about how it looks, plays, sounds, etc. I will inevitably talk about those points as well, but I also want to try to touch on certain game mechanic choices and why I feel they made them. I am a developer and a fellow game designer (still working out my first released on) so these will naturally come in to light when I play games, and I often think about how they would develop such a mechanic. So here we go…
This review copy was played on Android 7.1 on a Google Pixel. Small disclaimer that I got the download for free as a beta test.
This is an extreme action game in the vein of Super Meat Boy, meaning that it is easy at the beginning to give you a chance to learn the controls as well as give you a false sense of security, and then ramps up difficulty pretty quickly. It also does the smart decision of only pitting you up against 1 or 2 new obstacles each level. This meaning you have enough time to get introduced, overcome, and then feel safe about that obstacle only to have that security blanket be pulled from underneath you with the next level. Spikes aren’t bad, but spikes with jumping or falling can lead to numerous deaths. So I would say the difficulty ramps very nicely with a sort of “climbing wave” pattern. Where the game slowly gets more difficult, but then ramps down at the beginning of next level but is still not as easy as the previous.
The levels are a series of rooms that you must collect all the coins or die in the room. Each room has different obstacles that you must overcome, and when you do collect all the coins you teleport away to the next level. There are 10 rooms in each level, with 4 stages so a total of 40 levels. Now that is a pretty good size for a release, but there is also room for another 4. So we can assume we will get another 40 rooms with the rest of the game. Again the levels introduce a new obstacle each time starting with spikes, saw blades, thompers, and laser beams. There are also things like trampolines, conveyer belts, moving platforms, and falling blindly down holes. All of these traps combine with all the other things in the level it can get super crazy real quick.
You control the game by tipping the device left and right, with tapping to jump. You would think super easy to control right, well for me it wasn’t. I would sometimes forget that I was tilting the game and just keep running, but that’s no fault of the developer :). Once you die, and die you will, you get a kill counter that reminds you how much life you have sacrificed to this obstacle god. My end result after playing all 4 levels was in the 200’s, so not too crazy. Also when you die there is a delightful ragdoll effect and a spray of pixelated insides that become outsides. The gore covers the chromatic background and sticks. So when you pass by again you remember how much you failed the 10 times before that. When you start the level a timer starts as well. This continues until you get past the last room in that level, room 10. The clock only stops when you die and starts right back up when you continue. So for each level there is a time to take you from room 1 to room 10, and this is your score for the level. Each level has a goal to get 3 stars. I personally got 1 star on every level besides 1. I may try to go back and get more stars, but I might also like to not swear that much again so we’ll see.
That’s pretty much the game. Straight forward with tightly made controls and mechanics. I got all 11 achievements in about 2 days of casual playing, meaning I got through all levels and did some side stuff. Games like this should be on mobile. Short sweet levels that can take up your time if you want, but don’t have to. It also uses Google Play Games which is honestly the first time I think I have paid attention to it and used that app. With Google Play Games they added achievements and leaderboards. At the time of this writing I’m still 2nd in speed of the first level. Only have to shave 8 seconds off to be number 1 🙂 Which is something I may try to do. So adding leaderboards has engaged me to want to try and beat the guy in first, so good choice there. Also a little side from adding support for Google Play Games is that you can record your gameplay with commentary directly in the Google Play Game app. This also opens up a world of possibilities from content creators. This will allow them to easily record gameplay and directly load to YouTube straight from the app.
So if I could complain about anything in the game it is this. Once you die and choose to respawn the timer immediately starts but the player cannot do anything for a couple of seconds because an animation is playing. I would think the timer wouldn’t start until the animation is done, but I understand why they did it the way they did. I see this as almost like a penalty for death, so not only do you incur the extra time to redo the room, you also get a respawn time. I understand that, but in time trials I would like to see all the time given to me be my choice, not bloated. I already have to redo the level, isn’t that enough of a penalty? Also I wish I could hide the clock, that really gets me nervous. Again another design choice that I get. I would have put it in to give the player feedback. To visually let him know how he is doing until the end. Imagine spending 20 minutes playing something and to find out when you were done that you have a low score, or thinking you win and you’re not even close. Keeping it out in the open gives the player a visual cue to let them know if they are doing good or not. It also is there to make sure the game is not cheating you out of time or a way to keep tabs on the timer.
The game has a paid and a free version. At this time it is $1.99 on Google Play and iTunes. It is also available on the Amazon Digital store. There is no price there, but I’m sure you can get rid of ads for $1.99 in game.
I would really recommend you try this one out because I think it is definitely worth the $1.99 you pay. If not for the well designed, enjoyable, and thought out game, but to just support these truly genuine developers. It’s really refreshing to know that some people still love the craft of the design and not just in it for money. If you would still be on the fence, just give the free version a try. If you feel any amount of enjoyment, float these guys a couple bucks. I think the entertainment value is there as well. If I paid $2 for this game, it took me about 4 hours to beat the game, so I would have paid $0.50 per hour playing. Hell arcades cost more than that for 2 minutes with House of the Dead.