5 minutes playing The Blob and one can see why it turned to be a big mainstream project: it’s bursting with innovation.
Full of fresh ideas Exploration is rewarding even without any palpable achievement
Tricky camera Level design issues lead to occasional glitches
Right after finishing a big urban revitalization project the Netherlands’ Utrecht city prefecture started to wonder about how to offer the citizens a glimpse at the future planned for the city. And since they were talking about future, why not to create an interactive virtual town? Why not to make a game where you can play around to see how this or that place will look after the makeover? This was the setup behind De Blob, a student’s project planned to be a free game available for any passerby visiting an information centre in the ‘real’ Utrecht to try.
Utrecht must be a terrific place… :)
Despite starting as a government project it’s easy to notice that the team behind it was made of gamers, not marketeers: the game is full of innovative gameplay concepts, goals to achieve and secrets to uncover and it’s surprising to see how well developed it already was at this stage–to the point people at THQ (who bought the idea to make de Blob for Wii) didn’t have that much to upgrade aside aesthetics/overall presentation and expanding the environments.
In De Blob you control a jellying, spherical alien who fell on Earth and has the power to absorb the colorful people walking the streets; by doing so you’ll be drenched in that person’s color and able to start a big mess by painting buildings, cars, trees, etc (while avoiding INKT agents who want to capture you for the government). The more you absorb people the bigger you get and you can also mix colors to make a new one (if you’re blue and run into a red person you’ll become purple, for instance).
Under the aforementioned premise you can play the game as that casual passerby and simply wander around to explore the city; or you can act hardcore and look for every landmark (important buildings) and hidden coin scattered all over the huge area. You won’t get much of a reward for doing that but painting those landmarks–which need some specific color and amount of paint to get nailed–will give you a nice panoramic view of the place being revived and the satisfaction that comes with it.
Exploration is rewarding in itself.
Exploring the city is the main feature here and that alone feels great for sure; but the camera can get tricky and annoying at times. [note: the game was developed to be controlled only with a trackball and there was no room left for camera controls] Aside that there are a few moments when you can get stuck between trees or walls (and thus forcibly restarting the game) due to some level design issues, so the game isn’t free of shortcomings.
As a student’s project The Blob is more polished than one could expect and the amount of new ideas flourishing here is remarkable. It even makes de Blob (the big version) feel worse because some of their issues were here from the beginning and wouldn’t be that hard to spot in this smaller iteration.
In the end the game is plain fun and fresh and it’s well worth a try–being free and all it won’t hurt your budget anyway. ;)
Good! [actual score: 7.5]
Game originally reviewed for the Autonomous Regime Union at Gamespot. Thumb it up (or down) if you care. ;)