For those who’ve never heard of Ludum Dare, it’s a bi-annual games jam that challenges game developers to create a game that’s in-keeping with a predetermined theme in just a few days. This games jam has created a number of really interesting projects over the years and last December’s jam was no different. During LD43, the theme developers had to work with was “Sacrifices must be made” and Swedish developer Jussi Simpanen created the ingenious Total Party Kill to suit that brief and then went on to win the whole thing.
Now, Jussi (AKA Adventure Islands) has released the final, polished version of Total Party Kill with a new control scheme for PC and mobile devices and – spoilers – it’s really quite good.
Total Party Kill puts you in control of a mage, a knight and an archer, one at a time, who are all seeking the treasure that’s hidden behind 60 puzzle platform tests. To pass each of these 60 head scratchers, you’ll need to navigate an array of nefariously designed levels and overcome spikes and…well, just spikes really to reach the exit door with one of the adventurers. The kicker? It’s impossible to reach any of these exits without sacrificing at least one of your merry band.
Each of the team have a unique ability – the archer can shoot an arrow the length of the screen, pinning anything it hits (especially your squad) to the wall, the Knight can bat things up and away with his sword and the mage can freeze its pals into blocks of ice, alive or dead. Total Party Kill tests the player to use these abilities in tandem with one another to kill team mates and clear a path to the end of each screen.
For example – To get to an exit door, you need to raise a barrier which is controller by a button. The only problem is, the button is on the wall and beneath it is a row of spikes that are far longer than the distance any of your heroes can jump. So, what do you do? Position your archer next to either of the other characters and horizontal to the button, fire off an arrow and pin your pal to the button, thus activating it and opening the door.
Total Party Kill is a game about experimentation and is built around obtaining knowledge rather than upgrades or powers. After introducing you to the controls and the basic premise in the first few levels, the game lets go of your hand and it’s up to you to do the leg work. You’re provided with everything you’ll need to overcome all 60 levels within the skills of the team but it’ll take trial and error to uncover the nuances of each which form the basis of some tests. The first 10 or so levels are about using a singular characters abilities to shift your team mates off their mortal coil and into a helping hand. After that, it’s about combining abilities, turning the knight into an ice cube to then shooting it with the archer to slide it along the ground above some spikes, for example. The further you progress in the game, the more complex the design, the more definitive the solution and obscure the nuance to the mechanic you’ll need to find. Total Party Kill does a whole lot with very little, rinsing every ounce of challenge out of its core.
Since Total Party Kill won Ludum Dare, Adventure Islands have tweaked the controls, tightened up the design, cleaned the art and reworked the UI. Most importantly, the game now has a new soundtrack from KungFuFurby which is much more appealing than the original but is still a little repetitive as it’s only one track on loop.
Total Party Kill does have a few issues. First, the UI has been redesigned to work primarily for a touch screen to accommodate a release on mobiles. It’s big and clunky and not entirely intuitive on PC. Lastly, it’s a little short. 60 levels might seem like a lot but there’s between 2 and 4 hours of content here for puzzle enthusiasts.
Otherwise, Total Party Kill is good fun for a few hours and it doesn’t take long to realise why it won Ludum Dare 43, really personifying the theme of “Sacrifices must be made”. There’s some really teasing puzzles to be found here that always involve throwing on of your team under the bus to get there and it ends with a genuinely funny moment.
Team Party Kill is available now on PC (review version), iOS and android.
Developer: Adventure Islands
In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy please go here.
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