As individual animals are downed, the slow-moving Dorian must return to a tree house to spawn individual reinforcements, a slow and pace-crushing task that interferes with the real-time battles and can make later levels last a half hour or longer. Dorian can cast a few powerful and forest regenerating spells but searching through the spell menu does not pause the game, so it’s often not to your advantage to bother looking. Also, two or three hits and he’s done. Even the lowliest of squirrels last longer than that.
To get you to suffer through the story mode’s faults, playing through will unlock several WiFi-friendly competitive multiplayer modes and a pretty hefty level editor. These are rather playable but ultimately cannot completely overcome the controls.
The game’s environmental message is rather well-intentioned: Keep out the trash, stop littering and plant more trees to help revive the forest and you’ll be rewarded with useful gems/mana to help level up your little buddies. The theme does seem a bit mixed up, however, when you have to destroy flowers just because they are stinky (sorry amorphophallus titanium) and beat up animals that are cranky, ugly or slimy (even if some later become friendly once de-polluted). Can’t all forest life just get along?
Eco-Creatures has a good core theme, cute characters, an interesting level editor and an hour or two of fun in it. Otherwise, its muddled approach to real-time strategy and mixed messages make it a gimmicky game that doesn’t quite succeed the way it was intended.
Mar 18, 2008
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