Indie Review: 1000000
A retro-styled fusion of casual puzzle with an action RPG, 1000000 is a game that is all about the score. Is it worth going all the way to the million?
- Worth The Time?For a semi-casual gamer, yes. It offers much more depth and challenge than something like Bejewelled through RPG elements.
- Things LovedThe retro 8bit-esque visuals and sound that suit the quirky fusion gameplay; the sense of humour and references that span from LotR to Field of Dreams. This is a game full of nerd culture.
- Things HatedRepetitive gameplay that is not likely to keep me hooked all the way to the 1000000 points mark.
- RecommendationIf you have an addictive personality, the game will hook you into a craving for the next level, the next upgrade, the next achievement, the 1000000 points. But there are probably more fun things to be addicted to. A good way of killing time, and a great sense of humour and aesthetics keep interest for a while, but can't quite save the game from staying a mere time killer.
- Name: 1000000
- Genre: RPG/Action/Puzzle
- Players: Single Player
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: PC (Steam), iPad/Mac
- Developer: EightyEightGames
- Publisher: EightyEightGames
- Price: $4.99
- Reviewed On: PC
There’s a reason casinos don’t have windows. The logic of the place is to keep you in there, cut off from the outside world, pulling the one armed bandit (not a euphemism, I swear) and handing your money over one bit at a time. Oh, and small victories; you know, ringing and lights flashing and a small cascade of the coins you just fed the machine.
1000000 lives on something similar. It is a game that takes the idea of the high score to the furthest possible conclusion. This little number doesn’t expect you to master it in order to set the high score. Instead, the game starts off with the master highscore already set. 1000000 total points. No small amount. And in order for your little pixel Indy lookalike to apparently escape a dungeon outfitted with a convenient bed, and numerous zombies, dragons, elementals and other standard dungeon crawler fare, you need to rack up 1000000 points in cumulative runs. Sounds easy. Just, you know, casually beat the top high score possible in order to win. Nothing major.
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The game’s mechanics blend a hardcore Bejeweled style of tile matching with elements of an old-school RPG and dungeon crawler. You run the dungeon. If you are moving, attacking, opening chests and matching tiles you gain “time” to run, i.e. you advance across the top panel of the screen towards the right. Stand around trying to find a match or get clobbered by monsters, you’re pushed back towards the left hand side. Your run is up when you are knocked back to the very edge of the panel. All of this is presented in a very quirky aesthetic. The soundtrack of 8bit bleeps and bloops could come straight out of Adventure Time, and the graphics are a simple homage to old school RPGs from back when everything was square. The hints and tips are chock full of little jokes and pop culture references.
All of this is linked to the game’s simple objective that feels very old-school: beat the high score.
That’s it. The game isn’t about a story. There are sort of boss monsters, but only “sort of”. No fanfare. No “oh shit, we’ve got a badass over here”. Just a T-Rex that will push you to the edge of the screen. But, when the game is named simply for the win condition, I can’t really expect anything else. You match tiles in the most stressful casual-game-esque experience I’ve ever had. And while I was playing, I was having fun. The manic challenge of matching so many tiles and the quick feedback of rewards initially kept me going for a few hours. Then life came back to me, and I set the game aside for a night. And a day. And a bit more.
Here is why it’s like a casino. You keep going because in one more run you can upgrade your magic, and then in one more run you level up, and then in one more run you get a better sword to make it further to upgrade more to make it further to upgrade more…… until you reach the massive million mark. But, like a casino, it’s both addictive from the inside and insane from the outside. While you’re in the feedback loop of minor rewards and achievements unlocked, the logic to keep going makes sense. Give it a long break and it feels a bit pointless. Why should I spend time to reach the 1000000? Why not continue my game of Torchlight 2, which is equally daunting but more engaging?
Simply, this game is nestling into a strange niche somewhere between casual and serious gaming. It is more deep and challenging than something like Bejewelled, and requires a lot more time sunk into it. But it isn’t quite as engaging and challenging enough to keep a more hardcore gamer hooked for long enough to break the 1000000. Unless, of course, that person has an addictive personality, or is a completionist achievement-seeker. In that case, you’ll probably keep going until you have mastered every element of the game.
But, I fear, there may be more entertaining ways to spend your time and more important achievements to unlock.