Eekeemoo – Splinters of the Dark Shard Review
Xbox One (Review), PS4, PC
The longer the title of a game, the more worried I get about playing it. If I can’t pronounce it, how can I play it, write about it and enjoy it? This game doesn’t muck about with things like cut scenes, prologues or tutorials either. Oh no, you just load up, and are instantly left on your own. But what is it? Who is Eekeemoo? Is it really only £4? And if it is, is it worth it?
Eekeemoo is based on a popular comic book series that has gained a worldwide audience due to its wordless nature. Cogg Games have developed this little indie title over the last three years, aiming for kids and adults alike. It’s a third person platform adventure where you navigate a series of environmental chapters, while trying to save your four friends. Each of these friends has a unique skill set, like smashing doors or firing a magical bolt of energy, and these will help you in the fight. You will battle an army of undead monsters, solve puzzles, jump across hazards and defeat massive bosses.
Story wise there isn’t really much to go on here, as there are no explanations or words in place. I don’t know why my friends are trapped, who’s got them or why I’m bothered to go and rescue them. It’s a very interesting thing, to tell a story visually and without words, but sometimes it feels unclear of the objective and the direction Eekeemoo is taking. The same goes for the gameplay, which at first is tricky, because you don’t really know where to go or what to do, because there is no tutorial or ‘press this button to do this’ helpful hint. It took me 10 minutes before I realised I could fight back against the hoard of creatures that were chasing me round, stopping Eekeemoo from turning into something like the end of a Benny Hill episode.
You move around the space you find yourself in, with the camera behind you, just like a Zelda game, leaving you free to jump and attack. The creatures come at you en mass so it’s up to you how you attack. Do you try and bait a few at a time, or rush in and kill or be killed? There is a shield button that you can use to time your attacks, but I never could seem to time this right, so I went for the berserker mode and hoped for the best. You also can collect hearts for health as you progress through the level, and these get dropped by the creatures you kill. You also jump from platform to platform at certain moments and there are things like falling bridges and cracking ice to navigate through.
Then you have the puzzle sections, which need you to knock a switch or fire an energy bolt to unlock new areas of the chapter to progress. This all works fine for bits of the game, but there are some buggy moments here and there. At one point I was invisible for a short while, before coming back into focus. On another section all the creatures seemed to float above me for a while, never coming down. A couple of times I had to restart because there was no way through. The jumping is sometimes very hard to judge and the combat is a pretty damn hit and miss, while just banging the attack button and hoping for the best seems to work the best for me. The boss battles are occasionally fun, but at other times frustrating, like all the boss battle are. After each chapter you get a little friend who you release from captivity. There is a big giant of a friend who can smash open doorways and take on giant foes, and there is a magical friend who can shoot energy bolts to help solve puzzles in later levels and kill enemies from afar. Then there is this chap, who is a sort of like TV on legs. The thing is, I never really worked out what his purpose was. But hey, he looked cool, so that’s all good.
Now, it may seem that I’ve been a bit down on the gameplay, and yes it has problems, but it kept me playing and after three to four hours of playthough, I have to admit I really enjoyed myself.
The style and looks of Eekeemoo – Splinters of the Dark Shard are very cool, with a nice homage to the comics. There are bugs though, and the camera angle at times can drive you mad, but the creatures and world within are beautiful things. In regards the audio though, then well, the soundtrack, in a word, drove me mad. It loops a theme that is like the imperial death march and I couldn’t get it out of my head for days.
Overall and there most definitely are lots of problems with this little indie game. The story is hard to follow, there are no instructions, and at times, it’s stupidly buggy. But it is only £4 and after my initial 10 minutes, I enjoyed the journey it took me on. The art style is cool, the gameplay when you get used to it is solid and the characters are endearing. For the price, you may as well give it a whirl.
+ Art style
+ Cheap as chips
+ Achievements galore
- No story
- Consistently buggy
- First ten minutes might put you off