It’s been so long; I apologize for the huge gap in posts! School has been crazy for a long time but I hope to start getting this old thing back up and running.
Anyway, so I made my usual rounds on Kongregate and itch.io, and I came across this game in a newsletter from Kongregate. The thumbnail for it looked intriguing and actually kind of cute, so I decided to check it out.
Story: So as a summary, Fear Less! is about a girl whose having a nightmare that she needs to escape while also dodging various other obstacles she encounters in her dreams. Losing means the nightmare gets her and she wakes up in a panic! Although I’ve never had dreams quite like this girl, I think the game is fantastic. I won’t spoil how to beat the game, since I plan to discuss that in a later post.
Gameplay: Fear Less! is a 2D side-scrolling pixelated game, where the girl along with the nightmare tailing her are constantly in forward motion. I found it clever that to minimize controls for the player to keep track of, the combat is reduced to simply pressing a key at the right time, and your only other option is jumping. This adds a challenge, since you can’t just focus on one thing on the screen while you play, while also maintaining simplicity of controls. Replayability is added through the upgrades and medals that players can try to get, and trust me, I replayed and have all the upgrades, but still working on getting all those medals!
Overall, Fear Less! is remarkably well done, and impressive for having only two people work on it. From the plot and gameplay to the sound and art style, I’m addicted to playing this game again and again (which will come in handy later; you’ll see). If anyone is looking for at least an hour to kill and enjoys some simple combat or just likes pixelated art, I suggest checking out this game. Maybe the developers will make another game for the community to get addicted to!
You know the drill; now is when we go over the game with more of a fine-tooth comb. We’ll discuss mechanics, bugs/issues, and general technical stuff going on in the game.
- You cannot jump over enemies if you are less than an inch away from them, despite having plenty of time to jump – in the game, you can choose to jump over an enemy or defeat them. However, if you are about an inch or less away from the enemy with plenty of time to jump, you will be dragged back down in front of the enemy so it can hit you. This is game-breaking because the game encourages the player to either defeat or jump over enemies. When one of these does not work like the game intends, then the player cannot choose.
- The 12th fire hits the player – as the player continues to run, they eventually encounter a small pit of fire that they have to jump over, an introduction of another obstacle the player will see throughout the rest of their run. There later comes an entire row of twelve of these fire pits, and the trick the game wants to player to do is simply keep running, no jumping. While doing this in one of my runs, the very last fire pit hit and I took damage. This isn’t too much of a big deal since this only happened once, but since the game wants to player to just run through this row of fire pits, having one of them actually hurt the player when it’s not supposed to is a bug.
Level Design Bugs:
- Spacing and timing – this was a frequent problem throughout my playthroughs. Throughout a run of the game, players can encounter up to eight obstacles. Some of these obstacles cannot be defeated, so the player must jump over them. Players can jump up to three times in a row if they have fully upgraded their jump. During runs, there was always a point where these obstacles are simply too crowded together to jump over successfully. When it is clear the game wants you to jump over some obstacles, you sometimes do not have time to jump again to avoid the next obstacles that are too close together, even with your jump fully upgraded. For instance, my seventh playthrough of the game (where I had my jump fully upgraded) had a skull and a grave stacked on top of each other after I was to jump over a mushroom and avoid another skull; I had to jump twice to clear these. On my way down, one jump will not get me over the grave-skull stack, and if I hit the ground, I would not have enough time to jump twice to clear the grave-skull stack. Overall, spacing out the obstacles will work wonders and prevent a feeling of unfairness in the player.
- Meter tracker – this one is merely a suggestion to the creators! Consider having a meter tracker somewhere on the screen during the run so players can keep track of how far they are running. I understand that distance is not the goal, since distance is only required for some medals, but the meter tracker could help them see how long they’ve been going and how much farther they have to go. I also know that the tracker would need to be in a place on the screen that would not obscure the player’s vision, which is difficult to find. Perhaps under the hearts on the upper left-hand corner, since enemies are coming in from the right side of the screen.
- It was a little confusing knowing how to beat the game. Since it’s a running 2-D side-scroller, I thought that the distance travelled had something to do with it, as in the player needed to travel a certain distance to beat the nightmare that’s chasing them. And, looking at the comments for the game, it seems other people thought this as well. The actual way to beat this game is to earn all the medals in the game. I had to look to the comments to figure this out, since I was unsure how far I had to run to win.
- This is more of a finding and not a suggestion of any kind. What I test for in games that have an upgrade system is if the game can be beaten without buying any upgrades. As I mentioned above, you need to earn all the medals in the game to beat the nightmare and win. A few of these medals require you to purchase upgrades. For instance, an upgrade players can purchase is fox ears that make it so the fox enemies during gameplay will not attack them. One medal is specifically for buying this fox ears upgrade. Since earning all the medals is what beats the game, the players will need to purchase upgrades and cannot beat the game without purchasing any. If the goal is to just play and not worry about winning or beating the nightmare, however, then yes, they can get by without purchasing a single upgrade.
Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this long-overdue post! As always, links are below.
And here is the link to see my gameplay of Fear Less!: Watch Me Play This Game!