After viewing an interesting trailer on Steam the other day, I finally got a chance to try out the demo for Exkee’s I-Fluid over the weekend. Though I am not sure that I am ready to pay the modest $10 for the game, my experience with the demo was somewhat fun and I think the team behind the game definitely have something to be proud of.
I-Fluid puts you in the, er, shoes of a drop of water, and has you sliding around levels getting from point A to point B, doing time trials, and finding hidden petals. Levels for the game look very nice, even realistic, and are composed of various items like books, paper, pencils, paperclips, and a cornucopia of other office / school supplies which all serve to help or hinder your progress. Objects in the game react realistically thanks to the Ageia physics engine, and often you must traverse moving objects as they tumble around. Obstacles in the game vary from stationary objects, dry surfaces (like paper) which will suck your drop dry, and thirsty insects. You can replenish your small supply of water on any wet surface, and movement around levels is appropriately slippery.
As you can see from the screens, I-Fluid is actually a very visually interesting game. The high-resolution textures used on most of the models look as if they were derived from photos, and the depth of field effect really solidifies the macrophotography feeling of the game. Drops of water, and other transparent materials, refract the scenery behind them. Much of the game’s various objects look tasty enough to eat.
The 2D aspects of the graphics, however, leave a lot to be desired. During the opening screens of the demo and even when the simple resolution configuration popped up before the actual game loaded, I felt that a lot more polish could have gone into the presentation. Once the 3D portion of the game loaded I forgot all about this, but loading screens and menus can be important, because they are some of the first impressions your users will have of your game.
I enjoyed gliding around a few levels from the demo, as everything controlled just as it should. I was slightly annoyed at the controls when, only seconds after being introduced to the jump ability, I found myself being forced to perform a difficult maneuver across a plastic protractor, suspended over a pit of notebook paper by a rolling glue stick. It sounds silly, I know, but the movement of the water drop depends largely on your control over momentum and the direction of the camera, and I had trouble sticking the landing with such slippery physics. Overall, I had fun playing I-Fluid, though I’m not sure if I’m up for the challenges I suspect will be present in the full game.
At the very least, I-Fluid did manage to pull me away from working on my revised blog layout for about 45 minutes, so I guess there is a small victory to be held somewhere in that. I think that for anyone wanting a simple, physics-based platformer with good graphics and a unique approach, I-Fluid could be a good fix, especially if taken in bite-sized play sessions. For me, I might just wait until it comes down to $5.