Finwick


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Rating: 4.5/5 (154 votes)
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Finwick

zxo"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night, nor plasma beams, nor giant spinning saw blades, nor weird, vicious, mutant dog-like things with spikes growing out of their back, stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Hmmm, that doesn't seem right. But it must be, at least if you're Finwick, the scrappy young title character from Jackson Lewis's gorgeous new game. If the character and the tight level design seem familiar to you, it's because Lewis is the supersecret mastermind behind Platform, the serial puzzle-platforming adventure that captured the hearts of so many in 2007. In fact, Finwick is billed as a sequel to Platform, though the phrase "spiritual successor" might be more appropriate in this case.

FinwickYou see, Finwick's not trapped in an alien warehouse with no idea how he got there. He's just making his very first delivery for the Royal Mail. Nothing weird or creepy about that, right? Of course not! At least that's what he thinks until he starts coming across mutant fish, vicious dackpaws, and creeped-out forest denizens. The further into the forest he ventures, the stranger things become!

Controls are pretty typical of platformers: [left] arrow and [right] arrow to move, [space] to jump, [up] arrow to climb ladders and [down] arrow to activate switches. Use [Z] to switch between characters once Finwick's friend/love interest Pentella joins him on the adventure. If you don't like the key assignments, you can customize them using the Options menu ‒ always a plus for games requiring precision movements.

Fans of Platform will be excited to hear that the full version of Fenwick offers 79 levels of platforming nirvana. Yes, that's right, I said full version, meaning that to access all 79 levels, you'll have to fork over $5.99. Luckily, the first 25 levels are totally free ‒ no registration, no gimmicks, no nothin'. There's a couple of training missions that I wish were skippable, followed by about a dozen single-character platforming challenges. After that, Pentella enters and the rest of the game requires the use of both characters. Although the bulk of the game is only available to those who pay, the 25 free levels are well worth playing on their own.

FinwickAnalysis: Instead of simply making Platform 2, Lewis took the time to really craft a distinct, polished product. The levels are smoothly tied together by the carefully crafted (if a bit formulaic) story, with characters whose differences go beyond the color of their shirts. The dialogue seems a bit choppy at times, but the controls are smooth as butter ‒ a welcome upgrade from the slippery, unresponsive controls that plagued Platform. Shadows, textures, and a pleasing palette make the artwork appear as if it was painted right onto your screen. Not a pixel seems out of place anywhere.

The level design continues to uphold the high standard set in Platform, although the difficulty seems just a tad lighter (perhaps that's simply an effect of the better controls). For better or worse, the jetpack is nonexistent in Finwick, although there are plenty of other twists to knock your noggin. Along the way, you'll see tributes to classic video games like Donkey Kong and the Indiana Jones style mine car games.

The free levels end at just the right time to tempt you into purchasing the full game: the story is moving along nicely and the levels have just gotten into their full swing of awesomeness. You'll know by the time you get there whether or not you'll want to continue into the full game. All I can say is that if you do pay for the full game, you will not be disappointed. The full game lives up both to the promise of the first levels and the legacy of Platform.

I'm not sure I can say enough good things about it, so I'll just leave it at this: In Finwick, Jackson Lewis has once again crafted a brilliant gem of a platformer.

Play Finwick

42 Comments

Kitchingham October 5, 2009 1:22 PM

I find "scrappy" to be an odd choise of words to describe someone/something the user of the word does not hate/loathe.

The reason for this? Why, TVTropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheScrappy

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This is very beautiful, and builds really well upon the groundwork of Platform 1. I particularly like how the world changes from level to level, starting with the city, moving on to the factory, then the quarry, and so forth. You get a sense of progress beyond just reaching the next level. The graphics, animation, and controls are spot on. Even the most fiddly section with switching characters over a plasma line felt very comfortable to play. Well done on that.

That said, I'm not sure if I can justify dropping 6 dollars on this. The quality is good, but not six dollars worth of good.

He's close, though. The game just needs something to give a promise of depth, such as hidden areas to find in the levels. If there was a reason for me to go back and play through a second time and have it somehow be different, I could see this working. As it stands, though, I played the first 25 levels and enjoyed them, but have no reason to ever go back and do them again.

-SirNiko

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Anonymous October 5, 2009 2:12 PM

It's good stuff. It reminds me so much of platform - well, unsurprisingly.

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Anonymous October 5, 2009 2:49 PM

I have a serious problem with the controls. If I hold down an arrow longer than a second or two, it stays down for 10 seconds or so after I let go and I have no control. It seems like this happens for me on about 25% of flash games, I have no idea why.

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JIGuest: I believe that's a feature of Windows. I Googled how to disable its auto repeat function, and found these instructions:

You can disable keyboard repeat feature through the Control Panel.

  1. Open the Control Panel, if you're using Windows XP, double click the 'Accessibility Options' item.

  2. In the Accessibility Options window, switch to the 'Keyboard' tab.

  3. Select the checkbox before the 'Use FilterKeys' option.

If you're using Windows Vista...

  1. Double click the 'Ease of Access Center' item.

  2. Then click the 'Make the keyboard easier to use' link.

  3. In the window opened, select the checkbox before the 'Turn on Filter Keys' option.

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All I can say is that if you do pay for the full game, you will not be disappointed. The full game lives up both to the promise of the first levels and the legacy of Platform.

As someone on the fence about taking the $6 plunge, I wish you'd say more!

(Also, boo to TVTropes links.)

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As someone who mostly demands nice visuals and a sense of place from games, I found the 26 (not 25) free levels of Finwick extremely enjoyable - so enjoyable, in fact, that I'm on my second run through now. Despite the presence of vicious dackpaws and plasma beams it's generally a serene and very relaxing experience. I also found the game's level of difficulty exactly right for a non-expert player. I suck at platformers, and get frustrated by them very easily, but I found Finwick mostly very easy, with just a few levels that were a bit tricky, and even the tricky levels didn't take more than, say, ten attempts or so to complete.

I can't buy the rest of the levels at the moment, as I'm broke; however, I would absolutely consider it if I had the money. The only thing that I'm a bit doubtful about is that it seems that the game is moving away from the nice nature settings of the first 26 levels later on... and I'm not sure I'm as interested in a non-nature setting, as that is the main draw of Finwick for me. Can somebody tell me a bit more about the setting of the remaining levels to help me decide if I should put this on my 'to buy' list for later, when I have money?

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@Jay

I believe the JIGuest's comments have more to do with the complexity of this game than a Windows setting.

I've got a Pentium 4, 2.80GHz computer running Windows XP Home and the game is unplayable (even with the 'slow frame rate' box in the options checked).

I'd love to enjoy this game, but every time I get to a complicated level, the response of the game is too laggy to allow the precise control needed.

This may be something you'd want to consider for future game reviews - some sort of processor speed requirement so people with aging computers are fairly warned.

JDB

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I don't think it has to do with processor speed, JDB. I'm playing on a machine with a 2.0 GHz processor and Windows XP, without any problems.

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@Hmpf -

I'm not so sure. I'm curious what version of Flash you have installed? I've got 10.0 r32 (10.0.32.18). I've seen some other oddities between Flash versions, but I'm definitely maxing out my CPU with Finwick (I'm on Firefox, but it doesn't matter - IE did the same, curiously Safari did okay, even though the CPU stayed maxed out).

JDB

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Really enjoyable game and played through all the way to the end (purchased the full game after completing the intro levels).

I did prefer the outdoor scenes, and the boss-level wasn't as enjoyable as the other levels but overall well worth the price of a pint.

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@JDB: I'm using the latest version of Flash (sorry, don't know the version number, but I downloaded and installed it just a week ago), and my browser is Opera 10.0. CPU usage is somewhere around 60% when I'm playing Finwick.

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brokenrecord Author Profile Page October 5, 2009 8:46 PM

Wow, how surprisingly bloody (especially the crunching/splattering sound effects when you run into the electric fields).

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I didn't check my cpu usage, but my laptop's fan was going pretty crazy while the game was open, even paused. I liked the game a lot though! I'm not sure $6 worth of a lot.

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Annoyingly enough the link is down although I suspect that that would be due to coverage from JIG sending loads of people its way.

(EDIT - it's back up now!)

Anyhow I thought that I would quickly comment on the price issue.

Luckily enough I've got an income coming in so it's not so much of an issue but it's worth to bear in mind that (even if Finwick is half as good as Platform) games of this calibre pitched at $6 seems remarkeably generous when you appreciate the talent (artwork, coding, sound, general development and time and love) put into making this. And not just this release but in any other releases they've put out (I very much enjoyed the FREE Platform(/strong)).

If you're totally strapped for cash or even have no means of paying (don't have a card or Paypal etc...) then by all means don't buy it (or save up and ask someone with an account) but I think what I'm saying is that saying this is not worth $6 (or £3.85 in uk money) is a little rich when you consider everything that's gone into the development and quality of something as good as Fenwick.

I'm sure that's not what you were saying at all SirNiko and gmpilot, but maybe next time...? I know indie games dev value everyones support, money or sympathy!

Similarly it amazed me that people grumbled at $3 for Patrick Smith's Windosill!
http://jayisgames.com/archives/2009/04/windosill.php

Well done SmallGreenHill games!

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Love the game, but I'm stuck on level 16. I hope someone posts a walkthrough soon.

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+1 to the Substantial-Teaser-Then-Micro-Fee business model for indie games. I don't know how it's working out for the developers so far - anyone know how Windosill has fared? - but I sincerely hope it takes off.

Most of what we casual gamers see is created out of love for the games - and yes, a small slice of ad revenue from Kongregate et. al. If developers had another revenue stream available, one that might even pay the rent, we could see an even greater blooming of new indie titles. This is already well under way with the iTunes store and other mobile marketplaces, but I'd love to see it take off for the PC as well.

I sympathize with you broke folks - but you can't shake a stick at 26 free levels, and I am optimistic that $6 will not price too many players out. FWIW, I didn't buy the remainder of the levels because I knew I'd play for another hour for sure, and then my cost would have been $6 + 1 hour less billable = GET BACK TO WORK!

Pete J

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Very fun and beautiful game. But I have to wonder, what is going on in this guy's head that he takes a shortcut through a crazy dangerous plasma plant? I would have gone the long way. But then I don't have infinite lives.

And more crazily, why do the tree people have plasma bars and switches in their town? Surely that is just a failure of town planning.

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zbeeblebrox Author Profile Page October 7, 2009 1:09 AM

@Morne: As Tolkien says, shortcuts are always incredibly tempting, and inevitably a bad idea :D

I'm going to echo Pete's sentiments. I imagine it's at least better than the "hope to get bought" model that only works if your game skyrockets to wild popularity a la Line Rider etc. Plus it's worked on me three times now.

I just finished playing through the whole game. Very well done. I only wish some of the crazier, more complex stuff had taken me outside the Compound area as well, as the whole last 1/3 of the game happens underground. But it's an incredibly pretty game none the less, and I love how quick and smooth the character switching mechanic is. Definitely worth more than $6

I wonder if the Jackson Lewis has considered bringing it to XBLA?

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No way!
Another game needed to pay?!
it's so awsome
and i know it'll not disappointed
But I don't wanna play money....
O well
Better luck next time...(to find a awsomw game that is free....)
(P.S. These guys, Finwick, Jim and Pentella, are just what I was needed for the secret apllications)

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@zbeeblebrox (or anyone else who's played the full game): would you mind telling me - maybe in spoiler tags, to protect the spoilerphobes - how much more of the game is set in the forest? You say a third of the game is set underground - so that would be around 25 levels? Does that mean that another 25 levels are set in the forest?

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BlackWolfe Coyoten Author Profile Page October 7, 2009 10:45 AM

Lots of fun! WHEEEEEE!

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I'm stuck at level 16 also. I've killed the dackpaws and keep stomping near the wheel to see if i could clear enough rock to turn it, but no luck. Any hints, please???

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Anonymous October 8, 2009 1:07 PM

Sus, I'm stuck in exactly the same place - wondered if it was a bug - hopefully not though cos I'd love to keep playing this great game!!

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Anonymous October 8, 2009 3:04 PM

14 and 16 have glitches. I was able to get passed 14 (seemed to be a false ceiling while trying to get out of the first pit) randomly but cannot jump onto the second vertically-moving platform in 16.

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Why is the game rated :S? I'm not seeing any reason for why the content would be offensive and would like to know before I play.

[Edit: There is blood in later levels. -Jay]

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I'm stuck at level 20, there seems to be no way to get past the 'obstacle'. Anyone care to leave me a hint?

Great game, though, visually and challengewise.

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@zxo: thanks for the info. Do they get back to the outside world at the end, at least? *is really fond of the landscapes of Finwick*

@hespetre: I was stuck there, too, or thought I was. The trick really is just to [spoiler]swim past the fish when it's not facing you, and then just swim rather precisely and without stopping, always as close to the middle of the tunnel as you can manage. If you do that, the fish will follow you closely, but won't quite catch up with you. It's a bit tricky, but not too much.[/spoiler]

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Thanks, Hmpf, I got past the 'problem'. Now I have two characters to juggle, all the more challenge.

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Looks great, plays well.

It's just missing a little something. It needs some form of non-linearity. This is going to sound like satire, but I'm serious. I won't buy it because it's too linear.

Here are some ways to add non-linear advancement, and any one of them would make it a better game.

* Any kind of in-game currency which you could spend to get some kind of effect on game play.
* Achievements which aren't just "complete X levels". It could be "Fall a long, long way." Or "Kill 30 beasts."
* Optional / hidden areas.
* Side-Quests. You've got one big goal, but no little goals.

Anything that makes me want to go back looking through earlier levels for any reason would be an improvement.

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I played through all the free levels and decided to pay to play the rest. My first ever online game purchase. I guess I like Finwick!

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Neebat-

Interesting points but the core of Finwick seems to be the joyous simplicity of a very well crafted beautiful platforming game with wonderful artwork, sound, pace and level design and nicely crafted story.

I'm at the (I assume) final level of level 76 and it's been a wonderful wonderful experience. I agree in some ways that some of your points might add to the game but that really makes it another type of game. If they implemented those you could then say "well it's still missing something - what about being able to drive a car or maybe a multiplayer version".

I'm really happy of the satisfaction of what is there and adjusting my enjoyment tolerance levels accordingly.

Hopefully though if they bring another one out they could implement some of those features *(who is to say there aren't hidden levels in there anyway!!) as I'm sure it would add to an already brilliant brilliant game. (and call it "Finwick Neebat" in honour, which has a certain ring to it!)

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Minnaloushe October 15, 2009 7:18 AM

Can anyone help with level 75? Can't get past the

evil purple stuff

half way up

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Minnaloushe October 15, 2009 9:41 AM

Actually it's ok I did it! What a great game and well worth the 6$ (It was only about 4 euros I think). Thoroughly enjoyable, yet ultimately do-able with a bit of perseverance. Hope they make a sequel!

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I was very impressed by how smooth this game is. It just plays very pleasingly. The difficulty level is just right, apart from the boss fight at the end which is a bit easy.

But I agree, it'd be even cooler if there were some nonlinearity, some secrets, some extra goals to different levels.

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Evgeniy Fedoseev Author Profile Page November 10, 2009 11:40 AM

I LOVE this game! =)

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I'm stuck at level 41, can anyone help at all? There doesn't seem to be any way to access the shut down switch for the electricity beam.

THanks

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Isabelle June 21, 2010 2:23 PM

Me: I don't understand what makes this an orange ga-...oh. Eww! (quits game)
Too bad for that, because it's quite cute and fun. I avoid gore. I'll just have to keep searching for a great platform game.

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In the level where Finwick is being followed by a huge fish (I think it's the 3rd water level) he keeps dying for no apparent reason. Any suggestions?

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