[Free-Game Friday is a new weekly feature in which a writer from the GamerLimit staff looks at a completely free game and discusses their experience with it, allowing you to download it at the end. Feel free to check out our full schedule right here!]
Once again it’s Friday, and that means that we’ll be taking a look at an indie title that’s free to download.
This week’s game is Firequark: a first-time indie project from a U.K-based developer, better known by his nickname, Pilch.
Firequark is a breakout-style game with a twist. The aim is to destroy every brick on the screen without dropping the ball. You get three lives to progress as far as you can through ten levels. Rather than controlling just the one paddle, however, you use the mouse to control four – one on each side of the screen. What this creates is an enjoyable and addictive game that’s very easy to pick up, yet intensely challenging as you progress.
Having four paddles comes at a cost, though; the ball can leave the game by any side of the screen. This means that you have to pay attention at all times and be doubly cautious when it comes to aiming your shots. As you progress through the stages, the ball moves faster, and the blocks take more hits before they break.
In addition to this, sometimes breaking the bricks will release power-ups. These power-ups float slowly around the level until the ball makes contact with them. At this point, they shoot off in a random direction. Catching an orb with a paddle will also grant you a power-up.
The effects of the power-ups are varied: some have positive effects, and some will hinder you, so you’ll need to watch to see what colour the orbs are. Green and red are good and bad, respectively. However, you can also come across the super versions of these orbs, with blue providing you with massive benefits, and purple signifying certain doom, if caught. Benefits include slowing the speed of the ball down, multi-ball and a laser beam that instantly vaporises one brick, whereas collecting a bad orb can shrink your paddles, or even reverse the controls for a short time.
In the later levels, when the ball is traveling at a faster speed and you’ve gathered power-ups that have increased the size of your paddles, it can be difficult to avoid picking up a stray purple orb. This means that there is a very low chance of completing the game. Despite this, the developer has promised that both he, and his girlfriend, have completed the game. So hopefully this knowledge will spur you on.
Although it’s obviously simplistic in design, the game is presented with a lot of polish. The color scheme works well, and it’s a nice touch. The audio for the game is also oddly catchy, reminding me of some of the tracks from Pixel Junk Eden. Best of all, it’s an innovative, new take on a formula that worked well, and in an indie game like this, that is what really matters.
The only real negative I can see is that after you’ve completed the ten levels, there is no added incentive, such as a score, to get you to replay the game. However, Pilch is running a leaderboard of sorts on the game’s forums and has promised a reward to anyone who can beat the game.
If you enjoyed titles like Peggle and Super Breakout, and are looking for a quick, challenging distraction, then Firequark is worth investigating. It’s nice to see someone building something up from scratch, and hopefully, if he gets enough exposure, we’ll see more levels or perhaps a new game from Pilch in the future.
You can pick up Firequark here.