I love it. At first the thought of playing such a simple game didn’t thrill me, but that I went on to play 38 minutes without feeling the time pass. For a 7DRL the game definitely feels complete. 42 has an excellent inventory system and enough types of weapons to keep you juggling for a while. The real time nature of this roguelike made it the first roguelike where I truly felt compelled to close doors behind me. The first time I found a dead end room with 4 zombies in it I pretty clever at myself for just stepping back and shutting the door. Of course shutting the door stopped being a priority when I was zooming across the map with had 3 nanostim(100)s in my inventory, a 2lb sledge hammer in one hand and a locator in the other.
I liked the locator. At first I had qualms with the fact that it demanded being held, but I got used to the idea pretty quickly. The only complaint I still have with the locator is that other items I’ve left behind don’t show on the map. Granted there’d be no way really to tell the difference between ammo I didn’t have room to carry and a broom handle, but at least there?s be a marker there.
I only had a few small issues with the game. Playing on my laptop I didn’t have the number pad available to me, and the game didn’t support an alternate navigation scheme so I was stuck with the arrow keys which limited me to only up, down, left, and right. Since most of the level consists of north/south or east/west halls that wasn’t much of a disadvantage, still it was annoying at times when in an open room I was getting gnawed on by 3 zombies at my diagonal that I couldn’t attack until I led them into the hall, which is generally a good strategy anyways so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Still having qwe/asd/zxc or the (cryptic) VI key set available would have been nice, tho I can see how that may be limited by the targeting system.
The targeting system left a bit to be desired. After I turned it on I had no idea what key to hit (despite the zombie being marked with a big yellow ‘a’) so I pounded the ‘f’ (“fire?”) until depleted the ammo. Once the ammo was depleted I couldn’t pick anything up until I discovered that it was the targeting system overriding every alphabet key’s normal function. It was a frustrating lesson to learn. I got past it and it didn’t kill me, but it does leave room for improvement. I think simply appending the message about no ammo or weapon with “Turn off targeting (‘t’)” or even better that turned it off automatically wouldn’t be amiss. Also, perhaps limiting the targeting keys should be keys that don’t get in the way of alternate movement schemes like “nm,./”. I’m always in favor of choosing keys based on keyboard location rather than initials, but that may just be me. The other option is when targeting is off, change the side bar so that it doesn’t tell you that you can still grab items with a key that will deplete your ammo.
The messaging system was something else that needed help. In a real time game like this 3 lines just isn’t enough. This is where audio feedback would benefit this game greatly. The game would be greatly improved if I could hear the messages via short audio clips of hitting the monsters, getting hit, missing a shot, wild shots (because I hit ‘f’ instead of ‘a’ or ‘b’), landing a shot, or running out of ammo, and the rest.
After the first 30 minutes I found the lack of immersion (which I blame on a lack of sound and repetitive levels) made the hunt for the access code and then the exit somewhat tedious, especially considering the large size of the maps. As I was zipping around I started to wonder if I was going to make it to make it out of area 42 in time or if I was still going to come up short after an hour of play. I guess my complaint here is that an hour is a bit long to wait for a reward, especially with the looming chance of a kick to the groin at the end instead of a win, tho that may just be my preference for coffee break games. I would have preferred this game have levels a quarter or a ninth the size and a 15 minute time limit. To keep the incentive to play the bigger game state that the coffee break version doesn’t have the locator, melee weapons, or 100 point health packs.
And one last suggestion. Two zombie types just isn’t enough. How about a poison zombie that would encourage ranged attacks because if you touched it you’d be tainted. How about one that explodes when you kill it. (I’m going to avoid suggesting you make this left 4 dead rl). Maybe a slime that if you kill will spread toxic sludge, filling up a room and making it impassable. If I were meeting something new every level or two I would have definitely been encouraged to play more.
Despite my nitpicking it’s a game that’s easy to pick up and play. I got the sense that this game was almost begging for graphics an non-tile based movement. That and sound, this would almost be worthy of a commercial release. This one is definitely worth a try.