Team 17 the team behind such legendary games as Worms, Alien Breed and many others, is back with a the bang of an exploding sheep. Flockers is their latest game and focuses on sheep attempting to escape the Worms weapons factory (remember the exploding sheep? Well this is where they are made).
"Lemmings with sheep" is the most common phrasing I have seen in relation to Flockers but calling it that is really doing it a big injustice. Flockers sets itself apart however, in terms of the console releases Lemmings for me has always been slightly clumsy and clunky to control, Flockers however changes this up entirely being incredibly easy to control with it’s fast zooming in and out and using the right analogue stick to move the cursor around. Flockers is an absolute joy to control. Also, deaths are far more brutal here with blood and guts galore as your sheep are squashed by enormous hammers, sliced to bits by huge swinging blades and ground up by rusty old cogs. It has a very Oddworldy type feel to it, with a steampunk type asthetic throughout.
Your objective is to save as many sheep as possible using pickups the sheep collect along the way, these range from simple blocks (2 sheep on top of each other blocking the way) and "sheep stairs" (litteraly steps made of sheep) to exploding sheep (kaboom!) and super sheep (sheep with capes who can run up walls). You control the cursor on the screen choosing when and where to implement these pickups in order to save as many sheep as possible. Literally playing god to your flock. In addition to the dangerous obstacles put in your way, there are switches to activate to raise and lower platforms, teleporters and gravity pods. You'll also occasionally come across some sleeping sheep to add to your flock and in each level there is a Golden Fleece to rescue which generally entails having to do something out of the ordinary like launch a sheep up in the air using another exploding sheep.
Graphically it's 2D, but the animations are all spot on and the backgrounds are well thought out and look great. The levels are get more and more challenging as you progress, although I wouldn’t say I ever felt the game was ever unfair, if I failed a level it was always by way of my own error.
Flockers would benefit from a Quick reset option as these types of games are often figured out via trial and error and occasionally if you use your pickups in the wrong area it can become impossible to progress further on the level, that's half the fun of figuring out where you went wrong but having to pause and then choose to restart is annoying when you just want to get right back into it. Also there is no use of the speaker or the touchpad on the Dualshock 4, whilst this is neither a good or bad point the speaker could have been utilised for pickup and death noises to add a little more flair.
Flockers is far less cutesy than Lemmings (there’s no iconic “Let’s Go!” type phrasing at the start of each level) and lacks some of the charm as a result. But the perfect soundtrack simple controls and addictive gameplay make up for this and then some. Flockers is a superbly crafted puzzle game and a joy to bend your mind around.
Andy Urquhart 42 Level One