Iâ€™m a little bit annoyed with Create. Iâ€™m annoyed because it taught me something that I didnâ€™t really want to admit. Something Iâ€™d been repressing. I am not a very imaginative person, which is a bit of a shocker for someone who writes about video games right?
Because in order to really get into the Create experience you need to ponder outside the box and get your lateral thinking on. And I found that a little difficult.
Imagination is the whole ethos behind this new title from EA Games spin-off, Bright Light Studios. Create, funnily enough, is all about creating interesting, novel, and unintuitive contraptions in order to solve puzzles and fashion cool things. This kind of sandbox puzzle title is not necessarily new; gamers a little long in the tooth will remember the glory that was Kevin Ryan and Jeff Tunnelâ€™s The Incredible Machine (or TIM, as it was affectionately abbreviated).
Create continues in this long running tradition of giving gamers a space and letting them run wild in it. And in doing so the title has a â€“ dare I say it â€“ Nintendo Wii feel to it. And itâ€™s likely that was EA Gameâ€™s intent, with Create fully supporting the PlayStation Move Controller. This Wii-ness comes not only from your physical interaction with the title but also from the gameâ€™s ambience; that gentle, childish, quirky bubbly-ness (complete with tinkly audio) that infuses the casual gaming genre.
However, donâ€™t let Createâ€™s ostensible playfulness obscure the fact that at its core there is a complex game. As this is a puzzle title, there is no narrative to keep you going, but gamer attention will be kept by the wealth of challenges and objects Create allows you to unlock and acquire. These additions are paid for with â€śsparksâ€ť (of what, I am not sure â€“ perhaps inspiration?), which can be collected in many ways; from completing challenges using the least amount of tools and tricks, to beautifying your world. Nearly every game-face in Create is editable, and I spent a good thirty minutes pimping my fairground with fun textures, park objects and grossly over-sized animated Ferris wheels.
The more sparks you collect the more environments are unlocked. Each one a blank canvas ready for your brush, and each one with further challenges of increasing complexity to play around with. Thankfully there is depth to the types of challenges the game throws at you. The Incredible Machine-esque experience has been expanded on by adding additional glosses such as high score targets or construction assignments. But for those of you who canâ€™t really be stuffed finding out the million and one ways to put a rubber ball into a flaming hoop there is always the free create option, where your imagination and the gameâ€™s physics engine are your only real limitations.
Included in this buffet of choice, however, are a few hiccups and false starts. For a game that enables you to do anything with (almost) anything there is a noticeable lack of guidance. Now, I donâ€™t mean that there is a lack of handy tips and tricks, and familiarising yourself with the controls is easy enough. My criticism is directed more at the way the Create world works and how to navigate yourself through it. I spent a frustrating 40 minutes figuring out how to move on to a second environment after completing all the challenges in my first. Now, itâ€™s totally plausible that my lack of imagination was obscuring me from the blindingly obvious, but itâ€™s also possible that the game was expecting a little too much too early; by not being as obvious as it could have been.
The gameplay of the main draw card â€“ the challenges â€“ is undoubtedly fun. There is a multitude of ways to complete any given task and Bright Light Studios have managed to successfully find a way to tap into that most primal of emotions; the joy of figuring stuff out. But some of the tasks are diabolically challenging and will need a lot of thought and / or patience. Both things which, unfortunately, I only have a limited daily allocation of. In addition, the scope and difficulty of the challenges is a little slow to advance. Now, this is for good reason â€“ for a younger generation of gamers the â€śsoftly, softlyâ€ť approach will probably be appreciated. But there are also gamers out there who want to get into the crazy complicated contraptions right away, and they may get a little frustrated by the slow slog through the titleâ€™s early tiers.
Bright Light Studioâ€™s Create is a fun little title with hours of re-playability and value. Itâ€™s polished, itâ€™s imaginative and itâ€™s interesting. But it will take a special kind of gamer to stick with it and really drill down through all of its nuances. Unfortunately, Iâ€™m just not that kind of gamer. The reason Iâ€™m raising this is that Create will not be a title for everyone. For some, it will be fulfilling experience of imaginative inquiry. For others it will be no more than an interesting curio.
But it can be safely said that the bare bones are here, and Bright Light Studios have provided you with all the necessary tools to get you going. Ultimately the value of this title is up to you and what you do with it.
But thatâ€™s kinda what creation is all about, right?