Tails from Space: About A Blob Review
The concept behind Tales from Space: About a Blob couldn’t be much simpler. As a blob of goo your aim is to consume as many smaller objects than yourself as possible, gaining size as you do allowing you to consume larger and larger objects littered throughout the environment. You make your way from the start of the level to the end, overcoming obstacles by growing in size allowing you to reach new heights or remove objects blocking the path ahead. Along with consuming you can throw any objects within you, allowing you to damage enemies such as turrets from the earlier levels, growing right up to helicopters or tanks from later levels. As expected with any platform title since the 80s you can also sprint, jump and body slam too – which is nice.
There isn’t a great deal of options available with these basic controls and before long it all becomes a little too familiar, which is where the game throws its first fresh, exciting and new gameplay mechanic at you, propulsion and attraction! This ability allows you either pull to stick against any purple outlined object (typically metal) or push away from it. The game begins to shine with this inclusion and manages to keep the levels feeling varied and fun, throwing and sticking yourself around with ease whilst gobbling away whilst you do it. One such example would be a common occurrence of needing to balance the right amount of button tapping to repel your blob away from such an object as they are surrounded by spikes, whilst not going too far from fear of ceiling spikes.
This is where the game loses its identity by throwing another spanner into the mix, the ability to collect and dispose of electricity from electrical conduits. This starts by being as simple as filling up on electricity from one conduit and moving to fill a nearby empty one, resulting in a door to open or elevator to rise. It’s when this mechanic is coupled with needing to attract/propel conduits and consuming/throwing that the six different abilities become a fumble and, whilst rarely challenging or difficult, feel awkward, confused and get in the way of the fun.
Whilst the controls can be fiddly and the complexity of levels increases as you progress, About a Blob certainly feels tailored for a younger audience. There is a lack of challenge throughout with most levels a breeze to run through for your average mature gamer, with puzzles solvable in seconds and boss encounters a case repetition. This, coupled with the cartoon art style and vibrant colours, fits a younger less experienced gamer down to a tee – and there is nothing wrong with this, in fact it might be the game’s greatest feature.
The story, sparely littered through the game in the form of short cartoon cut-scenes, shows the glutinous blobs coming to an earth like planet where they are captured and chased by an evil scientist (the main enemy throughout). Your goal, as a mindless blob of goo, is to clean the world by consuming it and to get rid of the pesky evil scientist whilst you’re at it. It’s not the most sophisticated story but you’re a blob of goo, what did you expect? The graphical style is certainly pleasing on the eye, although asset repeatability is far too common having each level move from laboratory to outdoors to cityscape… and again, and again. The audio falls into this same pit, pleasantly chirping away in the background until hearing it on loop for the fifth hour, it begins to grate. A little more level variety would be greatly welcomed, bringing along with it varied tracks and art assets. The later levels are the most impressive in terms of style and gameplay, finally letting you grow to a scale that you’re chasing from the start.
Whilst the campaign is quite lengthy for an arcade title (five hours) there are a few extras to extend the replayability. If you’re still left wanting more when you’ve finished the core campaign there are additional levels that can be purchased through the PSN Store. To extend actual gameplay, as you munch your way through the levels you are rewarded with points which can be spent on customisations for your blob, allowing you to personalise them with patterns and shapes along with various eyes, ears, noses and hats. There is also a global high-score table for each level based on the speed in which you complete it.
The entirety of the game is co-op enabled, allowing a friend to drop right into the game at the press of a button. Working in a similar fashion to LittleBigPlanet when one player pushes the boundaries of the screen, the other player will have a timer in which they must get back into the screen or die. Returning to life is as simple as mashing the X button for a few seconds, and if both die you’ll respawn at one of the frequent checkpoints littered throughout each level. By making the game fully co-op enabled it’s an ideal title to enjoy with a younger family member, or even that partner of yours that is reluctant to play games (as is my case). It’s certainly a worthwhile investment for the intended audience, particularly in co-op, but one to trial before a purchase for the more hardcore audience.