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PC Game Review: I-Fluid

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Exkee's I-Fluid is the story of a tiny droplet of water trying to navigate the big wide world around it. It's a simple premise really, as is the game's main challenge: make it to the end without dying. Things seem a bit old school a la Marble Madness, but does this indie title match up to the arcade classic?

As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the game is about navigating each level, you have infinite lives, but the entire game is on a timer, so you don't have all day to lag around. Each level features a number of obstacles to overcome like thin pencil bridges, falling paper clips, steep slopes, and sharp turns. Paper and other absorbent obstacles provide players with a deep challenge, as navigating around these perils sometimes requires pinpoint precision. Touching anything that can absorb causes you to wither away until you become nothing and thus "die." However, collecting little water droplets along the way restores your size and lets you continue on. The game makes use of the keyboard as the main method of control, though the controls feel very basic and stripped down to the bare essentials.

The actual level designs aren't bad, taking you through different areas of a house, often with interesting twists. For example, one level places you in the middle of a Mexican-themed party while others have you navigating a dark kitchen with only the light of a firefly illuminating the way or dealing with hot frying pans that will evaporate you in an instant. The in-game physics are pretty good and the interactivity isn't bad either; in fact, several levels require our little droplet friend to knock things over or move things to reach the next part. If I-Fluid had more of this kind of interactivity and exploration, it certainly would not have hurt the game or taken away from the Marble Madness feel it sometimes gives off.

But I-Fluid is, sadly, no Marble Madness sequel. The biggest problem with the game is the camera, which is sometimes very awkwardly positioned and can make getting around tough obstacles artificially harder. A bit freer camera would have done wonders for this game. It's also somewhat short at only 15 levels long, and a lot of those levels feel a bit alike, with just barely enough diversity to keep your attention. Sure, there are three separate modes for each level, but I didn't really find it interesting enough to try playing through every level on time attack or in petal mode. Then there's the somewhat irritating level select menu, which, while being creative in using different pipes as portals to each level, can also be a pain in the butt because you have to physically make your way to the pipe in order to access the level, and some are harder to get to than others.

At only $10, I-Fluid isn't perhaps expected to be very long or some totally enthralling experience. It isn't, but it is a passable little experience that offers a good amount of challenge for both casual and hardcore players alike. A few more levels with some unique designs and maybe a fourth game mode would have helped this game out immensely, as would have removing some of the game's glitches. Thankfully, being a PC game, there's always hope of a magic patch to take care of those things. You might be able to do better on Steam with your $10, but you can also do a hell of a lot worse.


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About Brian Szabelski