Gentleman… Ricochet! Review

by on October 17, 2013
 

Bar tables are the perfect place for silly little games. From Solitaire to flicking pennies into glasses, to that other activity where you try and flip catch beer mats dangling off the side of the mahogany, there’s an innocent, yet malleable simplicity to the activities around a bar table.

Gentleman… Ricochet! feels born of such activities. You can imagine a few chaps sitting around the desk, sliding a coin around and trying to land it in “zones”. That’s ultimately the idea here: bounce a coin around an arena to collect stars and then land it in a goal. Simple.

Only, it’s not that simple. The only way to really complete a level is to collect stars littered around the woodwork and then get to the goal, but you have to do it in a set amount of flicks. What’s more, you can only launch from – and stop in – designated zones on the board. You don’t have to be super accurate though; just tap the zone when the penny is within it and it will freeze there for you to line up your next launch. It’s more about accuracy than velocity.

Controls for the launching of your coin-like instrument are simple. Tap the coin to shift it around then pull back on the tab to power up the launch before letting it fly. And, as said, tap zones to “freeze” the coin within them.

It’s a puzzle game, ultimately. The act of collecting your three stars and completing any level is always determined by the level’s core design, and never by player ingenuity. Levels do start to seem smart with the addition of walls that break when hit, and others that appear as your coin slides over them – these elements prompt a spot of considered aiming – but later obstacles, such as the awful cogs, work to undermine Ricochet’s puzzle purity, turning it into a frequently frustrating endeavour.

It’s just a bit of an odd one. The idea of Gentleman… Ricochet! seems to be born from the simple idea of tabletop penny golf, but the more puzzle-y execution here undermines the fun that could have been had in working out exactly how you want to move around the stage. The implementation of the launch zones is painfully constricting on your movements, and the ability to alter the power of your shots feels under-utilised: because you can, and need to, instantly “stop” the coin in said zones, there’s no reason not to launch at full speed.

This isn’t to say that the puzzle gameplay isn’t diverting. Gentleman… Ricochet! is certainly a well put together title, and one more than capable of distracting your attention for a short while. The design is tweaked to such a degree that you have to be mighty accurate – you can’t just fudge your way to three stars, you really have to concentrate on your angles. It’s just unfortunate that the game offers up an amusing concept about bouncing a coin around a tabletop maze, and then essentially shackles your abilities and just asks you to repeat the same solution over and over. Gentleman… Ricochet! has its wings clipped before it even has a chance to fly.

To its credit, the game has plenty of puzzles to clear, so there is that, but don’t download it expecting any sort of stylistic triumph. It’s a pleasant enough game to ogle, but its script is painfully dull. Compared to the likes of Foul Play, Henry Hatsworth and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, the game’s script lacks a certain elegant, gentlemanly twang, reaching instead for awfully trite attempts at comedy, such as a Velociraptor that speaks in block capitals. It’s all just a bit of a nothing, really, and the game neither suffers nor benefits from the script and characters.

VERDICT: Gentleman… Ricochet! is a cute and diverting puzzle game that seems to promise much more than it delivers. A slave to its own design, the stilting zone-based penny-launching cripples what could have been an interesting spot of flick-golf action by steering the game down a one-way puzzle street. Play the way the developers want you to, or leave. If you’re in need of a distraction then Ricochet does enough to amuse, but anyone with sights for something even slightly robust should investigate other avenues.

4

POOR. Games tagged 4/10 will be playable, perhaps even enjoyable, but will be let down by a slew of negative elements that undermine their quality and value. Best avoided by any but hardcore genre fans.

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