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Organic Panic

Score: 95%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Developer: Last Limb LLC
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Local)
Genre: Action/ Puzzle/ Platformer


Graphics & Sound:

Organic Panic by Last Limb & GameMill Entertainment has a great style about it that spills into gameplay, but first letís talk about the graphical style of this fast-action game. The game revolves around food Ė meats, cheeses, and a handful of fruits and veggies Ė that have the ability to manipulate the landscape through different elemental means. The 2D visuals of Organic Panic are appealing, to say the least. The variety of textures and very deliberate usage of color and other visual cues in the environments contribute to the eye candy that is present, sending this game over the top in a good way.

Character sprites really have pretty basic animations, but for a game like Organic Panic, they are adequately appealing. Additionally, there are many other animated things going on in the game, including visual effects, power-ups, and even breakdowns of the environment itself. Even the menu animations look great and add to the whole experience and feel of the game.

For games like this, visuals really only play a part in the overall impression of the game. Audio actually becomes vitally important and Organic Panic does not disappoint. With all of the on-screen action surrounding the characters, the sound fx do well to give auditory clues of the action too. Additionally, the menu and background music keeps the action in check as well. In all, this is one indie game that did it right.


Gameplay:

The main premise of the single-player mode of play with Organic Panic is to get your controlled character(s) from the starting point to the warp tunnel that signifies the unlocking of the next stage. To do so, youíll control a variety of walking fruits and vegetables, each with their own skill sets that will help in accomplishing that goal. On some stages, you wonít play as just a single character, but instead be able to switch characters at any point with a quick tap of the (Y) button.

This is significant because of character abilities and using them to dispatch enemies, change the landscape of the level, or manipulate things to allow access to areas otherwise inaccessible. The ability of the Kiwi to add water to the level is one of the most obvious examples. By dropping water into confined areas, it allows your character (even non-Kiwi) to access higher levels on the stage or it may be used to essentially drown enemies (meats and cheeses). Another character, the Cherry, has the ability to cut through certain types of ground. By doing so, it is possible to spin right up through the ground to reach higher heights or even to chip through chunks of ground and make them fall on enemiesí heads. Carrot is a well-rounded character who harnesses the element of fire in the levels. Also included is the Coconut, which has the ability to use a form of telekinesis on objects and enemies. While it is a cool ability, I have to say it is my least favorite because it feels just a bit too much like cheating, as there is no limit on the range of the effect, making it easy to drop enemies into oblivion.

In order to pass a stage at its highest level, the player must not just reach the end, but also accomplish a high enough score to earn it. Since each character does have its own abilities, reaching certain areas and grabbing the special crystal, for example, is sometimes a matter of strategy. In fact, in cooperative play, this can be even more important in the sense that when each player is a different character, they have to work together to reach all points in the stage before finding the finish line. It should be noted that it is even possible to cause the environment to be so destroyed that it is impossible to reach the ending warp tunnel, which is one more reason I love this gameís ability to rely on a combination of quick wits and some brain power to solve each stage.

Cooperative play is available and a fun way to enjoy the game with a buddy, but Organic Panic offers even more. Up to 4 players can compete in a variety of Versus Modes, including Free-For-All's or Teams. There are a few different parameters to tweak for easy customization as to your preferred game type as well, and if single player felt like it was laced with a bit of chaos, multiplayer modes amplify the chaotic nature of the game tenfold. The screen can be a host of effects blasting their way everywhere, and this just simply adds to the anxiety of competing against friends locally. NOTE: Multiplayer is local and not available through Xbox Live.


Difficulty:

Organic Panic is strangely easy at first, but does work its way up in difficulty as you progress and unlock more stages and levels. In the beginning, things are pretty straightforward and the game offers some advice as to how to maneuver. In fact, the baby steps almost seem like they last a bit too long, but considering that this game can appeal to players young and old, there is a nice balance of playability vs. mastering each level.

As mentioned above, the main goal in the gameplay is to clear each stage by earning as many points as possible. There are bonuses in each level in the form of dispatching baddies or obtaining an often hard-to-reach object, for example. On the early levels, being able to score big is pretty easy overall, but about half-way through the game, things arenít as clear as they once were in terms of mastering a level. Using the heroesí special abilities is almost always the key to greatness, and this is exponentially true in Co-op Mode.

Versus Mode offers a completely different challenge for up to 4 players. Not only do you have to deal with the environments and the bad guy meats and cheeses (if present in the mode of play), but the X-factor becomes your buddies. Believe me when I tell you that with multiple people and certain options selected, the screen can look like it is about to implode. All that, and it is strange how it is generally not too chaotic to follow your own player. The developers have done a great job with this balance.


Game Mechanics:

Organic Panic is an action-oriented, fast-paced 2D puzzle-platformer, and the controls for the game are simplified and perfect. Things are quite basic, with the ability to move the Analog Stick to control the player and being able to quickly switch between characters (on levels that allow it) on the fly with the click of the (Y) button. Additionally, it is possible to jump, swim, and shoot with ease.

The physics involved in each level are very well done, and do become a big part of some stages. Because it is possible to essentially sever a part of the levelís ground, it will collapse and even squash enemies (or players if they arenít careful!). Not only that, but these changes are also dynamic in that water can fill the cut out gaps and allow for a number of possible solutions in some cases.

Organic Panic is a fun little title that I hope people donít pass up without a peek under the hood. It may look like it is geared toward youngsters, and it probably is to a degree, but it can be a fun pass of time for anyone. The pick up and play nature of Organic Panic combined with the short levels that can be played even with only a spare 5 minutes makes this a worthy title to check out. Iím thankful that Last Limb was able to get their Kickstarter funded, because the gaming world is better with Organic Panic in it.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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