One of the greatest feats of engineering is holding back oceans. Also the oldest feat of engineering. Check out the first page of the Bible if you don’t believe me. It was the earliest bit of business God had to do before getting around to the stuff in the rest of the pages. This is also the premise of the Creeper World games. Divide the land from the waters. Hold back an ocean. Tame it, in fact.
If this isn’t a God game, I don’t know what is.
Creeper World, regardless of the number in the title, is an RTS played against a creeping ocean that advances according to a set of simple rules. It originates from very specific places on the map. Sometimes it spawns special attacks. It responds differently to different defenses. There won’t be any unpleasant surprises when you play Creeper World. You know exactly what’s going to happen and where it’s going to happen. Your enemy is predictable, but inevitable. That’s kind of the point. Oceans aren’t very smart, but they are determined. So you build up a network of guns that shoot away the waters. I know, I know, just go with it. You build up a chain of resources to power those guns. Also walls, of course. And then to win, you slowly beat back the ocean.
The main challenge is logistics and supply. Playing Creeper World is about claiming real estate, since the amount of power you produce is partly determined by the amount of terrain you control. You’re setting order against chaos. Laying in your efficient and tidy grid, like a blanket over the natural landscape. All in service of holding back the encroaching ocean. God would be so proud!
Creeper World 4 doesn’t change the formula much. In terms of gameplay, it’s pretty much the same as the previous Creeper Worlds, which have been at it for ten years now. This latest version does have new red creeper ocean, which is particularly aggressive. But the main difference is that one-man developer Virgil Wall, who’s been unrepentantly 2D over the years, finally transitioned to a 3D engine. Now the oceans have depth and even height, as waves loom over your defenses. Elevation actually rises up from the map. You can fly the camera down into your intricate network and see everything up close. Now explosions are the kind of pyrotechnics you might see in a Unity game instead of the flat puff you see in a Flash game. Creeper World 4 lets you inside and manages the kind of modest spectacle you want in your indie games.
Sure, you’re still playing a game with the same basic structure as Creeper World 3. A series of campaign/tutorial missions. Daily challenges. It’s got the random map generator, which is my favorite way to play. Roll up the biggest most challenging map, then pore over it. Where are you going to start your base? How are you going to proceed? How are you going to deal with the various threats coming from various directions? Lay in your starting infrastructure, then unpause and see how you do. If you’re me, you fail and restart a few times. Creeper Worlds are basically puzzle games. But with the new sense of scale that comes with 3D, with new visuals to show off the ocean as sullen pools and looming waves, it’s enough to make it feel like a new world and, therefore, a new game.
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