CreepyTown reaps some supernatural goodness

Posted: July 28, 2009 in Arcade, Puzzle

The Grim Reaper is your salvation. It sounds like I’m spewing lyrics from a heavy metal band, but this is really the theme behind a fun and polished game by the appropriately named CreepyTown. This game is about as entertaining as you can be without actually being frightened about harvesting lost souls and good old b-movie reaping enjoyment. While the game is looks like a twist on brick breakers, CreepyTown is much more than involving a small town, crazy townfolk, and of course supernatural goodness.

Our story begins in the town of Creepsford (cheesy, but it gets better) where the souls of missing townfolk are now reappearing and hanging around town. Ah, you hate to see that with lost souls. Who does the town Mayor Chib turn to? That harvester dude himself, the Reaper. In the role as the Reaper, your job is to find these spirits and return them to the Netherworld, but yeah, you’ll need to deal with some supernatural baddies along the way.

CreepyTown is well presented with a fun, cartoon-like setting. Each of the 50 levels are introduced with cartoon scenes and dialog mostly consisting of banter between the townfolk who really are more trouble than they’re worth and the Reaper. Visually, this game has some high-production values, terrifically animated with a mischievously taunting soundtrack. The devs did a great job with the character illustrations, and I was impressed with the Reaper who reminds me of the crypt keeper from that horror TV series “Tales from the Crypt”. While the game provides a brief tutorial in the beginning, the Help button is incomplete and only brings up a blank screen, which I assume is a bug.

In order to control souls in their movements, Reaper has the ability to draw energy barriers. The controls are straightforward: you draw barriers or lines with your finger and this works extremely well in this game. They appear instantly as green lines on the screen, but these are temporary and these souls are a little bounce happy. In order to open the portal to the Netherworld, these souls must collect all the crosses for each level. Once the portal is open, you must then direct them using the energy barrier towards the portal and viola…you’re a Reaper.

Similar to brick breakers, there are urns which need to be broken in order to acquire items. Depending on its color, urns may need to be hit more than once to crack them open. These include the crosses that open the Netherworld portal, as well as treasure, coins and power ups. Treasure provides scoring bonuses, while collecting 100 coins provides you with an additional life. The power ups include Magic Star for invincibility, Magic Coin which unlocks secret levels for collecting coins, and Speed Boost for faster movement. Many times, these urns are empty, but of course you don’t know that. One thing to keep in mind is that unlike traditional brick breakers, clearing the board is not the objective. Collecting the crosses, opening the portal and directing souls there is your primary objective. If you’re a greedy reaper and who isn’t, feel free to collect additional treasure and coins for bonuses. This adds a nice twist to the game and forces you to weigh your agility versus your greed. Good old Reaper.

The hitch is the timer because you have a limited amount of time to accomplish your reaping duties. Did I mention the Soul Eaters? These are ghoulies that hide in statutes, and when those are cracked, they will eat the soul in play. While this doesn’t end the game or deduct bonuses, it will bring another soul into play but at the beginning of the course. Early on, this won’t matter much with the simpler courses, but later on, it can be.

The gameplay is rather entertaining and not surprising considering the production values. Maneuvering souls around in tombs and resting places can be a difficult task, and throw in Soul Eaters and other obstacles, it becomes a tiring gig. Bonuses are awarded for time, and scoring is based on cash values because that’s what souls are worth. Early on, the game feels rather easy where only 2 crosses are necessary to open the portal, but don’t let that lull you into complacency. By level 19, things start picking up, and you’ll need more crosses to open that darn portal. Other obstacles will appear as well including ice gems, which will freeze souls in place wasting valuable time. More complex paths also await that require a little more dexterity and quick thinking in drawing barriers. Keep in mind that these barriers can be drawn in any shape and anywhere you want, and as I’ve said before, these controls are well implemented.

While additional levels are always welcome, the difficulty could be ratcheted up more quickly. For me, the game became more complex around level 16, and I’m sure this will vary from person to person, or reaper to reaper. To further add to the replay value, an achievement system would seem a natural fit for CreepyTown (e.g. Master Reaper for collecting 500 coins), and I’m sure the devs are already thinking of other creative ideas.

CreepyTown is an entertaining game where movement is only limited by your imagination. A polished presentation, challenging gameplay especially in the later levels, and a reaper to top things off make CreepyTown worth checking out.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for freaks of all kinds; interactive controls and a fun storyline round out a fun and definitely different type of game)

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