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Game Maker Games - Abstract
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Review by Jabberwock
One of the things I like best about the world of independent gaming is that creators are free to experiment. Especially lately, we've been seeing a lot of games that have stepped into the realm of the abstract - and despite its rather obvious title, Abstract is one of the better games in this category, though it is by no means a perfect game; indeed, in some ways it feels woefully insufficient.

In Abstract, you are the pilot of some unknown vehicle whose thankless duty it is to stop some ambiguous force from destroying the universe. The story, unfortunately, is not all that clearly explained, though it's not particularly crucial that you understand it. What it all boils down to is something we're pretty used to by now: destroy stuff. Lots of stuff. Not that that's a bad thing.

It plays pretty much like your typical overhead shooter - you maneuver your ship (vehicle... thing) with the arrow keys and aim and fire with the mouse. The ship handles satisfactorily (except for occasionally getting stuck in walls) and there's nothing particularly wonky about the mechanics, though I prefer the "wasd" keys to the arrow keys when used with a mouse. It's your job to guide this craft through three "bases" (i.e. levels), fighting of several varieties of enemy, each base followed by a boss battle. Sounds simple enough, right?

The game's main problem when it comes to gameplay is its poor flow and difficulty. Since it claims inspiration from cactus' Clean Asia!, I expected it to be difficult. This is indeed the case; though by no means impossible, even the first level takes a couple tries. I don't think difficulty is a problem in itself - I greatly enjoyed Clean Asia! - but if you die at all, at any point in any of the three levels, you're forced to start over, which is completely unneccesary in my opinion. As a caveat, though, the author put in a save-anywhere feature, which, if you decide to use it, makes the game painfully easy. I think the game would've been much-improved if it saved progress in between levels, or perhaps had some kind of life system; as it is it feels kind of like the author was just being lazy. Also, the level design is rather mediocre, which would be excusable if there were more than three - rather small - levels. But there aren't. Even the boss battles all feel pretty much the same. The gameplay just isn't exciting enough to excuse these weak spots.

While the game might be a little weak in the area of gameplay, though, it's very strong in terms of graphics. The graphics look quite a bit like those of the aforementioned Clean Asia; they use a lot of solid colors and clean, sharp lines. I like this look. In some aspects the graphics also remind me of Jph Wacheski's games, specifically the particle effects. This isn't to say that they don't have a touch of uniqueness, though; the graphics are remiscent of, but definitely distinguishable from, those of cactus' and jph's games. The sound effects are not memorable, but are relatively high quality. The music, unfortunately, consists of one or two measures looped endlessly. That said, it's nowhere near as annoying as it could be. But it is annoying.

In conclusion, I'd really like to love this game, but I can't. Of course, that's not to say it's not worth your time to play it; it's certainly unique in many ways, and a cut above the majority of Game Maker games released these days. There's also a good chance that you'll like it better than I do. In many ways, though, it just sort of feels like the author wasn't trying. It feels more like it ought to be a demo than a completed game, and there's a lot of unrealized potential.

Download Abstract (EXE, ~2.9 MB , Suitable for everyone )

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Comments (Add your own):
2007.07.19 ZPXNeonGM
Rating: 5

The pros to this game are that it looks awesome, and the gameplay to be somewhat engaging ( after I started using F5 and F6 ).

However, this game's difficulty is probably way too frustrating and steep for most players. The game itself doesn't have much meat on it's bones, as it only has three stages and bosses. Nice music, but it got repetitive quickly.

There's a good game with such untouched amount of potential to be found here. It screams for a sequel, really.
2007.07.17 Pasztor Istvan
Rating: --

Sorry guys if you don't like my game...
2007.07.17 The Third Man
Rating: --

Artistically, it's brilliant. But the gameplay is bland and the music is very repetitive.
2007.07.14 Kairos
Rating: --

I cannot rate this game because of the (poor) gameplay, however, the graphic style and particles are well done for an abstract theme.
2007.07.12 pubby8
Rating: --

I wanna play this game. When I opened it up it froze my computer and I had to restart.
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