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Submolok


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Rating: 3.6/5 (77 votes)
Comments (31) | Views (14,349)

Submolok

DoraPart of me wonders if Nitrome's Submolok is saying, "Don't quite hate your hands and keyboard yet? Ya will soon!" You're going to need some serious coordination to play this freaky action game that stars an alien who appears to be Krang's long lost relative on an underwater quest to find all the parts it needs to repair a satellite to call back home. The catch is that you move by firing thrusters located each corner of your square submersible, each one of which propels it in the opposite direction, so firing the upper right thruster will actually push you in a lower lefter-ly type direction. The key is figuring out how to use them in combinations to get where you want to go, which is easier said than done since our alien hero is naturally buoyant and wants to float upwards. The upper left thruster is tied to the [E] key, lower left to the [X], upper right to [I], and lower right to [M]. (Unfortunately, those are the only key options available, and you can't rebind them.) From the main hub where you'll return to add parts to your satellite, you can hop around to other areas, and in a mild flair, you'll find and unlock upgrades for your submersible as well, so if you can't reach something, you may need to come back later once you've found an upgrade that will help. Typically when you need another upgrade to proceed, the game will pop up with an icon in the upper left.

SubmolokEven if you master the controls, however, there are other things to contend with, such as underwater mines, hostile soldiers, and more. If you lose all your hearts, you'll be booted back to the entrance of the area you're playing and will need to gather anything you picked up since coming in once again. Oh, and don't adjust your monitor... that gibberish in place is text is our hero's native tongue, and isn't intended to be read! All of this is a good idea, and Submolok's creepy old-school sci-fi schlock soundtrack perfectly fits the ambiance and alien concept. While having a unique control set-up isn't a bad thing, however, Submolok's lack of customisation options means that some people are simply going to hit a brick wall, and the fiddly, floaty movement is bound to induce some rage quits. You'll definitely need to experiment with the controls and try to find a delicate touch when it comes to navigating the underwater dangers, and the end result is a game that will need a very special and patient soul to truly appreciate it. And Submolok deserves to be appreciated for the way it experiments with controls and contextual storytelling and instructions. Just try not to appreciate your keyboard too hard while you play.

Play Submolok

31 Comments

I'm always looking out for new Metroidvania adventure games. It's too bad this one is completely unplayable because of the gimmicky control scheme. What's wrong with just using WASD or arrow keys to maneuver? So you decided to give your game a bit of a "challenge" by using a counterintuitive method of navigation? Lemme tell you something: non-standard controls does not equal challenging gameplay. Non-standard controls equals non-playable gameplay.

After struggling with the obscure controls for a few minutes and failing to really nail them down, I figured I could have remapped my keyboard with AutoHotKey or something, but I wasn't going to be bothered to do so because a fun game shouldn't need to do that to be playable. Pass

1/5

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Non-standard controls creates good gameplay when it's interesting - which in this game, it's not. The reversed control scheme here is dumb and pointless.

QWOP is pretty fun, and its fun comes from non-standard controls. But it's on a much higher level of design, with good reasons for its control scheme, and not some randomly chosen gimmick.

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I highly disagree with both of you, I'm fine with the controls. I spent hours playing realistic space flight simulators with rcs though. Anyway, I'm stuck already, I really wish I could teleport to any place I went already instead of searching everywhere.

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Found in walkthrough on youtube, that wasn't so intuitive that moving a lever would move 2 platforms.

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I get that trying to navigate using... corner thrusters? is meant to be the challenge.

I'm not sure that I would have chosen those keys for the controls though. Maybe 1 3 7 9 on a keypad, with the option to invert the controls if you want (e.g. 7 could be to travel up and left, or activate the top left thruster thing).

With an option to use WASD or perhaps RUCN (the letters above and below the "home" keys, F and J) for those who don't have or don't want to use the numpad.

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I liked the unique controls. It's frustrating, but I'm sure it's intentionally designed to be alien and unintuitive.

Once I got somewhat used to it the gameplay was really fun. I visited every area once and I'm about 50% done. Although I'm not sure at the moment if I actually want to 100% this due to the high difficulty.

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Patreon Contributor Questioner November 29, 2014 3:21 AM replied to cams

If it helps:

There are more then 600 pieces in the world, but you will only need 600 to experience the ending. There is no bonus for getting 100%, at least i haven't found one.

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Just continued playing it and beat it. Turns out there aren't that many spare parts as I expected from your post. I still had to 100% every area except one. The ending says 93% completion.

But with more practice with the controls and the fully upgraded ship, revisiting the areas became much easier than the first time. :)

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Didn't care for the "creative" controls, I lasted about 2 minutes. Sorry

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I'll admit the controls are unusual, but definitely possible to get used to - thumbs on the bottom two keys and index fingers on the top two. My guess is they were going for the feel of an alien control panel, but who knows. Either way the game itself is a solid metroidvania, which gives it a plus in my book.

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Comments ratings are less and less meaningful... Anyway, I'm making an ahk script to have wasd controls. Given the fact that people here seem to not even know it was possible I hope they know how to install a software at least because this I can't do it from them though.

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This works great with JoyToKey and the thrusters mapped to the four shoulder buttons.

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Imo arrow/WASD keys would make this game less intuitive, since I prefer to have control over each thruster. Rebinding would have been an asset though, or an alternate control scheme. I had no real issue adjusting to the controls; it makes it a lot easier to brake without having to use the arrow keys.

ABOUT THE GAME ITSELF I actually love this, haven't enjoyed a Nitrome game in 2014 since Ditto I think. Maybe it's because I'm fond of underwater exploration games. The variety really comes from the level design and challenges. I already reset my saves and am trying to beat my score. The game actually gives you negatives if you surpass a certain number of deaths. It's tabulated based on the percent completion of the game and your ability to not die. Doesn't seem like the greatest scoring scheme though because I imagine the top scores would be identical once someone completes all areas 100% and doesn't die at all.

I'm not sure if this is a glitch, but did anyone notice that if you kill yourself after obtaining the explosive for breaking red blocks, the powerup appears in the same area, and collecting it allows you to destroy grey blocks? I couldn't find another area with a different powerup specifically for the grey blocks, so maybe that one death is necessary for completion?

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Flash Ninja November 29, 2014 6:55 PM

To the people upset with the controls:

The problem with using WASD/Arrow keys to move would be that each key wouldn't correspond to each thruster and it would way more counterintuitive to control than how it is now. You would have to have the up key correspond to either the upper left or upper right thruster, and then have then have the left or right key correspond whatever upper thruster you didn't use. Pretty much the same deal for the down key and the left or right key you didn't decide to use for the upper thrusters. It would also be hard to press all 4 keys at once to use one of the upgrades you get. I think that key rebinding wouldn't have hurt (it's happened before in previous Nitrome games) though I think it wouldn't have done much good. However uncomfortable this control scheme is, I can't see any other one being any more comfortable. While the first 20 minutes of playing with the controls was annoying, once I got used to the controls, it became a lot more enjoyable.

I don't think they were trying to create artificial difficulty by using these controls, either. I like the concept, but the controls don't translate well to the keyboard and they take a while to get used to.

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https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkYt9Y8XAMPnei6IrofFLlh1dbV31FjNDo November 29, 2014 10:23 PM

Okay. Seriously? why the awful controls. If you want to do something like this, use something along the lines of Q W A and S. Don't put the controls across the keyboard from each other.

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Actually, since they're the only controls (except bringing up the map), it's more comfortable if they're spaced out so you can rest a finger on each - while I agree that they may be a bit too far apart, putting them too close would mean you'd either only use one hand, which could impact your reaction time and accuracy, or you'd have both hands hunched in so closely that it'd get uncomfortabe quickly.
If I were to rebind them it'd be to something like TGPL so that the hands can rest in a more natural position, though this preference will differ from player to player.

Also, @Random-storykeeper
It'd be nice if they told you about deaths having a negative impact on the score - I ended up wasting deaths to restart a level at full health if I started it already damaged, so I'm stuck at 99%.
As for the spoiler in your post:

I found the grey block upgrade without issues, so that death definitely isn't required. As you said, it's probably a glitch. If I recall correctly, said upgrade is in the right one of the two bottommost levels.

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Ah yes, power to the post.

Shortly after commenting, I reset my saves and managed to get the powerups in their proper places. If you get two different abilities from the same powerup, the HUD acts a little strange. (It keeps flashing out the mine component once all three explosives are obtained, at least for me, but acts normally if the powerups are obtained in their correct places.)

I too also died a lot to reset my health, but I wasn't annoyed that my death count was high. Submolok isn't actually that hard if you don't care about scores. Already I've reset my saves for a third time and going in to reduce my death count. It's much better for me to not focus on the scoring scheme until I get a feel for how the game works. (As a warning for people curious about the reset option, it does not ask for a confirmation. So be careful!)

It's that area with a lot of parts above land that I'm struggling the most with. The missiles make it difficult to see where the sub is going and once you run out of fuel, you're usually completely doomed. I could abort the mission by clicking the satellite, but lost health carries over, which in my opinion makes no sense. The game already resets the parts you were carrying and puts you back in the main map world. Why force you to restart with less health?

Also noticed another glitch: I picked up a health upgrade when I was at 2 HP and there was no indication of my health being restored until I took a hit from some accurate missiles.

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The real reason for the strange controls:

Most keyboards cannot accept four keys being pressed at the same time. I'm not kidding here - if you try and hold down WASD or cursor keys all at the same time, most keyboards will not send information on all the keys.

The actual reason for those keys chosen was that they do not cause the short-circuit that prevents all information on the keys being sent.

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Is this to do with keyboard ghosting? It still seems to be an issue for some players reading from the game and blog comments, even with this control scheme. Plus I don't see how pressing WASD at the same time is even possible, or user friendly imo. I guess users would assume a separate control altogether for explosion. But as I replay this game, I find I actually appreciate having precision control over each thruster rather than the direction I'm travelling in, which is what the arrow keys would have probably done.

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Flash Ninja December 1, 2014 6:52 PM replied to st33d

Do you think it would have controlled better if you were able to use the arrow keys? Just curious... I would think it would be a bit strange to control that way.

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Flash Ninja December 1, 2014 6:55 PM replied to Flash Ninja

Also, couldn't you have made the block destroying upgrade activated by some other key and not have it be activated by holding all 4 keys down?

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prairiegal December 2, 2014 10:14 AM

Are there savepoints in the game? Only a small amount of the progress I made yesterday was saved.

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That's not "gibberish at the beginning" at all! Just a code, that, like any other, that can be broken.

The first two sentences say:

The rapidly shrinking class m planet thec??oid is on high alert.

Somewhere in the tadpole galaxy

?? - These two letters aren't recurring in the first two sentences, so I don't know what they are, and can't really guess.

I'm not doing the rest because it takes a while and I'm not really that interested. If anyone is, it's a simple substitution cipher, and there's enough the key in the spoiler that it should be fairly straightforward.

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Yeah the game saves the number of parts you obtained in previous areas. This only applies if you collect those parts and go into another area. You will always start in the main hub world, if I recall. But any parts you took up beforehand should still be there.

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About the gibberish at the beginning:

It gets revealed after you complete the game (send the satellite signal), so don't worry about putting energy into deciphering that. If I have time I would try for the speech bubbles in the game itself; they have to be manually decoded for the most part.

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@Flash Ninja: Actually, there's another option. Which thrusters fire can be based on which combination of arrow keys you press. So when I push just up, it fires both bottom thrusters, and when I push both up and right, it fires just the bottom-left thruster.

@zzzzz: Me too. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

u := 0
d := 0
l := 0
r := 0

Up::
u := 1
if (r)
send {e up}
else if (l)
send {i up}
else
send {m down}{x down}
return

Up up::
u := 0
if (r)
send {e down}
else if (l)
send {i down}
else
send {m up}{x up}
return

Down::
d := 1
if (r)
send {x up}
else if (l)
send {m up}
else
send {i down}{e down}
return

Down up::
d := 0
if (r)
send {x down}
else if (l)
send {m down}
else
send {i up}{e up}
return

Left::
l := 1
if (u)
send {x up}
else if (d)
send {e up}
else
send {i down}{m down}
return

Left up::
l := 0
if (u)
send {x down}
else if (d)
send {e down}
else
send {i up}{m up}
return

Right::
r := 1
if (u)
send {m up}
else if (d)
send {i up}
else
send {x down}{e down}
return

Right up::
r := 0
if (u)
send {m down}
else if (d)
send {i down}
else
send {x up}{e up}
return

I haven't gotten whichever powerup requires firing all thrusters. I suppose I'll have to map a key especially for it. My code isn't built to handle pushing opposite directions at the same time.

Now that I've got a control scheme I like, I'm liking the game. It's interesting to have cardinal movement be faster than diagonal movement instead of the other way around.

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YES! This is exactly the kind of game I like to see Nitrome make. In fact, a few years ago pretty much all their games used to be like this - games with a unique control scheme, moderate to high difficulty, solid level design, and highly polished pixelart graphics.

Yes, the thruster thing is nonstandard and confusing at first but that adds to the fun and challenge, at least for me. Also it makes thematic sense, adding to the "alien-ness" of the player character.

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I love this game!I was hoping to be much longer when I finished it,as I do when I finish every Nitrome game!Good work!

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silent george January 2, 2015 4:46 PM

I'm stuck. Probably at the 5th or 6th level, wherever the first set of red blocks you find. There are 3 guided missiles and a soldier in one area, but I can't get out of there. I've been to the left to collect some goodies, but it's a deadend. The map points me toward the right, but no exit shows itself.

I can hover and stuff, but there seems to be an upgrade I'm missing. I've jumped out and started over a couple times now.

Help! I love metroidvania and undersea exploration, so I want to progress.

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silent george January 2, 2015 4:48 PM

Oh, power of posting. I realized that the same switch works on both doors.

Reply
rayout April 7, 2016 9:18 AM replied to silent george

hey thank you! I was stuck in the same zone for ages too!

Reply

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