As a species, humans are easily bowled over by originality. Just look at what happened when the world encountered Spore: otherwise ordinary people would press the game into your face and shriek “GENIUS!” until they collapsed in exhaustion, weeping salty, jubilant tears. The brazen originality of i-Fluid is its most alluring feature: you’re a sentient water droplet in a Micro Machines-style kitchen.
The game takes place in a world in which orange slices tower over you like citrus skyscrapers. Pencils and paperclips become obstacles, while rulers and books form platforms and bridges. Absorbent surfaces such as paper or biscuits will soak you up, while impermeable surfaces such as varnished wood, plastic and (this one caused some arguments in the office) pancakes, will afford you safe passage. Moist objects such as fruit will let you rehydrate. The absorbency mechanic works intuitively so rather than signposting materials that’ll soak you up, i-Fluid makes demands of your common sense.
Coming into contact with a sponge will have expected results, although common sense failed us in some situations. Surely untreated wood would soak you right up? Surely the dried seaweed wrapped around sushi wouldn’t? i-Fluid makes you wish you’d spent more time spitting on random objects around your kitchen.
Powers are bestowed as you progress: the ability to jump, to double-jump, to climb, and then finally to wrap your fluid form about small objects to take control of them. Here’s where our only real problem with i-Fluid lies. The jump ability precedes dire platforming levels in which you may as well be controlling an anthropomorphic wise-cracking cat, and from there on the game seems to run dry on clever ideas.
This undesirable platforming slant pervades most of the game, a shame considering your little watery being is so much more worthy than these levels allow for. The wildly original concept of controlling a drop of a water belies any real substance to the game beyond the soaking-up mechanic, and much like the game’s protagonist the experience comes across a mite shallow. That said, it’s a charming indie outing that’s kind on the wallet – you’ll feel you’ve had your 10 bucks worth after the first few levels.
Jun 29, 2009