An entry to our 3rd Casual Gameplay Design Competition, Speck Oppression by Komix (creator of Rings and Sticks and Tri-achnid) is an extraordinarily unique title that maintains stark simplicity while wow-ing you with deep gameplay and stylish visuals. The goal is to gather energy by trapping bouncing specks near collectors on each stage. New tools and obstacles are thrown at you almost every level, forcing you to adapt your strategy at every turn.
The basic mechanics are given extra oomph by introducing different types of "fences" that can be moved and arranged anywhere on-screen. Fences have arrows that allow specks traveling in the same direction to pass while bouncing others away, allowing you to set up traps to keep them near collectors. You also have to keep specks away from the vulnerable core, as if too many collide with it you'll have to start over.
One of the best features of Speck Oppression are the visuals. Each stage (and each time you repeat a stage) presents you with a new, neo-retro setup of bright colors, smooth speck trail gradients and mesmerizing dancing objects. It would look and feel right at home on an arcade machine in the early 80s, which is a very good thing.
Speck Oppression is a calm game of forethought and strategy, and sometimes you'll end up setting the pieces in place and doing little more than watch everything unfold. Impatient gamers may see this as a flaw, but it actually showcases smart game design that allows you to create your own solution every time you play. Your current setup may work if you let it sit for half an hour, but there's always a more devious (and faster) way to the goal.
Sit back, watch the laser show, and let your brain start churning.
If you're the kind of person who can get lost in the bizarre shifting smokiness of the various media player visualizations, then Speck Oppression is bound to mesmerize you! It's a beautifully programmed game that incorporates a unique herding mechanism slightly reminiscent of Jezzball. It does feel slightly unfinished — the levels seem to be rather un-ordered, there are some items that are introduced and then abandoned, and it's often confusing whether items can be moved around or not. But all-in-all a worthy game, one I can easily just stare at and zone out to... zone.... out....... ahhhhhhhhh..............