Here at Jay is Games, we know we have a broad audience with discerning tastes. We know you take time out of your educated lives and wine tasting classes to visit us, so we endeavour to bring you only the most thought-provoking, the most mature, the most elegant and inspiring games out there.
In Spewer, the latest physics-based puzzle platformer from Eli Piilonen and Edmund McMillen, you take control of a little pink blob forced to run a gauntlet of increasingly lethal lab tests for a rather sinister looking scientist who finds something to fault in your every move. For most of us, this would be a pretty lousy way to spend a day, but Spewer never ceases to look absolutely thrilled at even the most menacing of deathtraps. It would be charming, a gentle reminder for us all to find joy in every situation, if not for the fact that it's probably due to Spewer being made up of vomit rather than brains.
Oh, didn't I mention? There's vomit in this game. Like, a lot of it. Pools, even. Yaaaaaaaay!
Spewer can be manipulated around the screen with the [WASD] keys, where [W] makes you jump… somehow, despite not having any legs to speak of. Pressing [R] lets you restart a level. In addition, you can click and hold the left mouse button to belch forth a mighty torrent of puke, turning the mouse to direct it. It's not just for giggles; this deluge of nastiness can also help propel you farther, and fill up otherwise dangerous areas so you can swim safely across, like some adorable, slime-laden tadpole. And when you're done, don't forget to hold down the Space Bar to suck all your vomit back up, since it can be reused indefinitely. I think I saw that on an episode of Bill Nye once. Isn't science great, kids? (Laptop users be warned: this game may be difficult or almost impossible to play with a touchpad.)
Levels are short, usually only one screen, and your objective is typically to reach the exit. Sometimes it's as simple as a few well-timed jumps. Sometimes it's a little trickier, as you navigate spikes, lava, switches and more. As you progress, the game introduces different elements such as different areas and types of vomit to keep things interesting. Because of how physics-intensive the game is, you may find yourself begin to lag the longer you play. The designers have included a link to a downloadable version of the game to help this, if turning down the graphics in the options doesn't help. Also included is a level editor, for you to create your own playgrounds of pukey goodness.
If bodily fluids squick you out, you may want to give this one a miss, but Spewer refrains from being very graphic thanks to one of the cuddly-wuddliest visual schemes I've seen in a while.
Analysis: Unfortunately, sometimes liquid — any liquid — doesn't play well with physics engines, and there are times when it seems Spewer's sputum simply wants to do its own thing, which isn't always in your best interests. There are a few levels that require you to fill up on vomit before you can use it by triggering locked containers of the stuff, and you're often left crossing your fingers and hoping the liquid falls out like it's supposed to. If you can, you can try to puke back up into the container to blast out any clingers, but this doesn't always work. Liquid can also squeak through cracks where you can't reach it occasionally, forcing another level restart. There's nothing sadder than watching a fleshy pink glob hopping impotently up and down beneath a switch because it doesn't have enough puke to reach it. (Sounds like a premise for a Disney movie to me! Where do I sign for my merchandise deal?)
There are also some minor collision detection issues, where the game apparently takes offense at you being close enough to breathe on the spikes and kills you for your insolence. Spewer's corpse always continued to look thrilled, but I rarely was. Also, why is Spewer's original puke powerful enough to help it sail across a gorge, but even a full, cannon-like blast of the stuff won't press a switch? Some levels also seem to be based entirely on something happening just right, or waiting around for it to happen, which breaks the flow (pardon me) of gameplay.
All of this means Spewer requires more than a little patience and a bit of a forgiving nature to really enjoy, but a little polish will go a long way towards resolving these issues. Spewer should appeal to the giggling, snorting six-year-old in all of us (heeee, Spewer), while still keeping the gameplay challenging and clever enough to keep your powerful grown-up brain piqued. Immature? Maybe a little. But gameplay issues aside, Spewer is a welcome addition to the physics genre. Maybe even the most adorable one. Awwww.
Thanks for sending this one in, Swive!