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SummaryDeeply spiritual or unbelievably boring? You decide!
The GoodThere is a school of thought amongst some games journalists that believes that the price of a game should bare no relation as to how it's judged. I'm not from that school of thought (neither am I a games journalist). Seiklus is a freeware game. It will cost you exactly zero money and was always intended to do so. Call me a sentimental old fool but I'm going to go easy on it for this reason.
Thus I present my leading hypothesis:
"Seiklus is worth the 20 minutes it will take you to download"
Of course, if you have broadband, it'll take you about 15 seconds, but I'd like to believe I'm not the only one who still connects to the internet with a 56k modem. Even though I honestly think I might be.
As you start Seiklus up, one of the the first things you will notice is how tiny the sprites are. The main character's eyes are about a pixel large. You will also notice the MS-Paint quality graphics, but hey - this game is free remember? No complaining. Your character, who is never named so I recommend you name him yourself, is out watching the stars and chilling with his girl when suddenly a meteorite smashes into the ground between them, causing him to fall off a cliff and for them to be seperated. Isn't it always the way?
The game starts with you in a sunny green countryside. There are some things lying around that you can collect. It would be harmful to say any more, as this game is primarily about exploration. There are no icons to clutter up the screen, no health bars as you can't die, no explanation as to what you should be doing other than a vague realisation that you'd better meet up with the other half before she starts organising your funeral or something, no nothing. So you just wander about with the arrow keys, and it's great.
The 'fun' comes in discovering the different environments. I'll only let you in on one more because playing it made me feel funny. Eventually you'll stumble across a place resembling Antarctica, all painted in greys. It's snowing while you're there too and the snow looks curiously realistic compared to the rest of the backdrop. I remember standing there with nothing around and nothing moving except the snow falling and...it was almost spiritual. Nothing great, just a small Zen experience. This game is Zen. Even attempting to describe it is proving far too difficult so it must be true. Seiklus IS Zen. Not bad for 20 minutes of your time.
There are secret areas too, and the game isn't like the platformers of old where you are told where you can and where you can't go by invisible barriers that block your path. If it looks like you can go left, you CAN go left. The first screen is an exception though.
Eventually you will realise by yourself what you ought to be doing, and things do get more interesting near the end. Seiklus is almost inspiring at times: this guy visits all these incredible places just by getting up and walking there. Nothing is said or probably even thought, he just acts. Almost makes me want to stop writing this review and travel to Bora Bora just with the change in my pocket. Almost.
The BadRemember, this game costs less than a wine gum. It would be unfair to say that Doom 3 has better graphics, so I'll forgo my tendency to compare the game I'm reviewing with every other game of the same generation, and instead concentrate on things about Seiklus that might make you want to turn your computer off and do something else.
Firstly, I'll break the news that the collectable items that are strewn all over the landscapes must be collected. Every single one. Whilst it's true that if you're playing the game, collecting the stuff and thinking "When does the fun begin?", then you're playing the wrong game; it's also true that when I discovered I had to collect ALL those little bastards, my heart sank.
The music is passable, but it never changes in volume and makes Seiklus far too reminiscient of some identikit Master System platformer. In fact, at one point, while my character was jumping around and climbing ladders and I was bombarded with that unchanging tune, I suddenly felt like my life was over. I thought: "What the hell am I doing?! Why am I doing this! I'll never make anything of my life! Some people my age have won medals at the Olympics! I'm sat here doing THIS?! And for WHAT?!!"
This game is clearly a highly soal-searching experience. And for only 20 minutes! Deal.
*takes off rose-tinted spectacles*
Seriously though, there can be few things in the history of gaming more frustrating than missing jumps in platform games and having to go through 6 screens just to get back to where you were, only to miss the jump again. In such times, is it any wonder that one would question the purpose of his/her existence? To think gamers used to put up with this 15 years ago and be happy...
The Bottom LineI suppose this is the kind of game that might appeal to veteran gamers, that is, people who were playing games before the SNES was invented. If you think about 'Alex Kidd' or 'Metroid' and get misty-eyed, then Seiklus might briefly return you to those simpler times. If your emotions are instead stirred by thinking about 'Skool Daze' or 'Starquake' then your halcyon days are probably too long ago and Seiklus will seem modern by comparison, so avoid it.
In case you're still wondering about that hypothesis I mentioned at the beginning...
Well, what an anticlimax. Seiklus may be worth your time if your life is as boring as mine is. Unfortunately though, you'll have gained more enjoyment from it if you hadn't read this review. It's a game to be chanced upon and then downloaded on a whim, without having heard about it (so be careful looking at the screenshots on this site). Oh well.
There are plenty of more enjoyable things you could do in those 20 minutes as well, like have sex 12 times. Or maybe that's just me.