Offspring Fling is a poignant game about the dedication of family, the scary beauty of nature, and the lengths to which a parent will go to protect their kids. Of course, it's also a game about throwing children, so don't think that it gets too sappy. When Kyle Pulver releases an adorably addictive new puzzle platforming adventure, it's obviously worth sitting up and taking notice, but when combined with the awesome music of Alec Holowka, it's really something special.
Offspring Fling starts with an unnamed Creature spending a lovely day outside with his favorite hundred kids... until an angry T-Rex comes along and stomps all the fun out of the meadow. Now, with the kids scattered throughout the dark and imposing forest, Creature's gotta catch 'em all before bed time. Creature moves left and right with the [arrow] keys or [A] and [D], and jumps with [X] or [,]. The central goal of each level is to traverse the obstacles, collect your offspring, and return them to the protection of a nearby safe-hut. Offspring are collected with [down] or [S], and stashed upon your head for easy transportation. However, cranial carrying has its drawbacks: each offspring on your head will lower your jump height and, naturally, it'll be hard getting through crawl spaces with something perched up there. Fortunately, your offspring are resiliently fluffy creatures, and, with a push of the [C] or [.] key, are fine with being thrown in a straight line until encountering a wall and bouncing safely to the ground. Of course, you could just drop them with [down]+[C] or [S]+[.], but what would be the fun in that? Anyways, there are buttons to press, blocks to activate, and killer bees and other baddies to avoid. Creature's going to have to work hard to get past more than 100 secret-filled levels, if all the kids are going to get home by bedtime.
Analysis: Offspring Fling's central carry and flinging mechanic is so clever and fun that it's a surprise no one has done it before. Of course, leave it to the maker of Verge and Depict1 to come up with intriguing new mechanics, and, what's more, craft levels that use the ideas to their full potential. Creature and Offspring are bouncy, flouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun to control, and a Kickstarter campaign to produce them in plush form should be started, like, post-haste. More than clever level design, though, Offspring Fling has a kind of heart akin to that of the movie Bambi: that special combination of cute, funny, and just a little heart-aching. You'll want these kids to be rescued from their danger, and to be the one to do it.
There are a few negatives to Offspring Fling, though, admittedly, they're probably a matter of personal opinion. Primarily, the graphics are visually stunning, but just feel a little... flat. It's hard to explain, but they seem to fall into an odd uncanny valley of retro-ness, and would look better in a style incorporating either more hand-drawn curves or full-on pixelation. Likewise, the music and sounds are both individually beautiful, but the combination of an epic score with the beeps and bloops of retro effects is jarring. Finally, the lack of a level editor and leaderboards seems missed opportunities. To be fair, though, there's a heck of a lot of game to start with.
Aesthetic quibbles aside, Offspring Fling is solid to its core. Play for a couple of hours, and you'll feel like you have just barely scratched the surface, and that doesn't even take into account the speed-run friendly features like shareable ghost replays. Offspring Fling is the rare kind of work that's cute without being cutesy, challenging without being tough, and builds upon a theme without getting repetitive. Check out the mechanics in the browser demo below, then prepare to fling yourself into awesomeness.
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