Developer: exGamers Studios
Publisher: Indie Title
Release Date: Out Now
Source Control is an indie puzzle game in the vein of Candy Crush or Peggle, and the first effort from Irish based studio, exGamers Studios. While the game itself is a competent one, it comes across as uninspired and does little to elevate itself above the ranks of other mediocre titles in the same genre. It also suffers from being on the wrong platform as it would be an ideal fit for mobile devices and touchscreens.
Source Control places the player in the role of a hacker, asking them to manoeuvre around the inner working of a computer in order to destroy a series of firewalls. This is done by lining up four data nodes of matching colour in a central grid, by rotating the four outer grids either clockwise and anti-clockwise. There are three central game modes, Arcade, Casual and Survival.
Casual gives you a great deal of time to clear each block of firewalls and is thus ideal for beginners. Survival, meanwhile, challenges you to get rid of as many firewalls as possible in a time limit of 120 seconds. In the time spent playing it, this was the mode I had the most fun in.
Naturally though, Arcade mode is where the meat of the game is. This cranks up the difficulty with every level you progress through and demands the most from the player. It takes a little while to get to grips with the game’s concept and fundamentals, such as getting used to the ability to rotate in different directions with left and right clicks, as well as being able to rotate both four-block grids and nine-block grids alternatively. But when you eventually get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised to note the speed at which you are hacking through the game compared to when you first started.
A major problem with Source Control however is how inaccessible the games full potential is. The Tutorial mode takes a total of nearly 20 minutes to complete. This is acceptable in a high-tier triple A game, but not an indie title that you plan on playing in 5 minute bursts. Annoyingly, it only tells you one snippet of information at a time and then makes sure you’ve absorbed this information by making you play through an entire level when really just a brief video would have done the job.
The basic controls and goals of the game are quite self explanatory, so the Tutorial really isn’t needn’t to explain these. It is only on the subject of Spartan nodes and Defense nodes that some explaining is actually needed, but odds are you’ll have gotten irritated with the Tutorial before you reach this point, a good ten minutes in.
Essentially, Trojan nodes attack the enemy computer’s defenses while defense nodes protect your own. Bizarrely, if you play through the game without bothering to learn what Spartan and Defense nodes are, it doesn’t appear to affect gameplay to any significant degree. I sometimes felt a little lost when a Spartan node appeared and a sound effect urged me to do something with it, but when time ran out, I never felt as though I’d missed a major opportunity.
On the contrary, I originally felt as though I’d dodged a bullet because I thought it was trying to mess up my progress rather than vice versa. Similarly, I never noticed when my own defenses were being attacked, so I failed to see the point of Defense nodes at all. This is something that may have occurred in later levels, but if I’ve grown bored playing the game before even reaching this point, then that is a sign that something has gone wrong.
Even with the knowledge of Spartan and Defense nodes, Source Control lacks depth and variety. Unlike a game such as Peggle, the presentation, music and tone are pretty dark. This works in favour of survival horror or adventure games, but with indie puzzlers, it is not particularly inviting for a casual crowd. And while it can become engaging over extended play, it is not immediately addictive, which is damaging to the experience when dealing with impatient or hardcore gamers. As a result, Source Control finds a very narrow middle ground, appealing only to a particularly niche audience.
Competent and exhibiting potential, Source Control is only really held back by bad design choices. It doesn’t implement power-ups well, in either their explanation nor execution, and its tone, while well executed, doesn’t fit the style of gameplay at all.
However, with a few tweaks and a more upbeat presentation, this could be an excellent addition to the App Store. On PC, it’s nothing more than a fairly passable way to spend the time.
*Both the full game and demo of Source Control can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:
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