Two of FGUK’s Writers Take a Look at The Flock
Platform Reviewed: PC
Release date: 21/08/2015
With exception of a few, multiplayer games do suffer from a limited shelf-life. Sure, upon the release, servers are often flooded with players hoping for the next big thing, but it’s not before long that players drift away and the game is left barren and forgotten. Vogelsap have come up with an ingenious solution to this problem and have boldly stepped into the ring with ‘The Flock’.
A multiplayer only title, ‘The Flock’ hosts a maximum of 5 players all vying for control of the ‘Light Artefact’, which is essentially a torch. Control the artefact long enough and you win the game, simple. The twist comes however with the effect being torch bearer has on your abilities. Without it you are a fast and agile creature, able to cover distance and heights with speed and finesse. With it, you transform into a slow humanoid, unable to climb and limited to a ponderous walking speed. The carrier is the prey and the Flock are the hunters.
The creatures do have one vital weakness, they are extremely photosensitive, shine the light on one of these beings and they burst into flames. Their only defence from this is to stand perfectly still, for reasons I cannot explain, whilst remaining motionless their skin is covered in an impenetrable layer, keeping them safe from harm.
To keep the game from languishing into a glorified version of ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf?’ further abilities and restrictions have been added. As part of the Flock you are able to spawn a static replica of yourself, which can be teleported to instantly. With considered placement these can be an unnerving distraction allowing you the time to move in and strike the carrier down and steal the artefact for yourself whilst out of sight from the dangerous light. You can also scream which alerts other members of the Flock to your position allowing for a coordinated strike against the bearer of the light. As the humanoid you are encouraged the keep moving, if you stay still for too long the light form the torch will extinguish, leaving you easy prey and the most obliging of victims.
I mentioned earlier that Vogelsap have devised a way they hope to keep player numbers high. Well they have introduced what they are calling the ‘Population’. The game will only be available for purchase for a limited time. This is controlled by the number of lives left within the game. For each death, that number is reduced by one and once it hits zero it will be gone forever. The game then moves into the yet undisclosed finale where everyone who bought a copy is welcome to join. At the time of writing the current Population stands at 215,330,875!
This is a fascinating concept and one I believe could work very well, sadly ‘The Flock’ fails to deliver on the most important aspect of all. It is not a very good videogame. The graphics are appallingly outdated, the sound effects are dull, the map design is uninspired, and the character models are horrendous. It is a shockingly poor attempt at entertainment, it is not frightening, unnerving or even slightly exciting to play. Maybe with five friends, all on voice communication, maybe some fun could be had. But with only three maps and such dull gameplay that fun will be short-lived.
I had serious high hopes for this game, I believe their concept can work, but not on the back of such poor design and craftsmanship. If this title was in its early stages of development, a pre-alpha, I would recommend it as one to watch. But at £12.99, even with a free copy for friend included in the price, I cannot possibly recommend this. After less than hour you will have explored all this game has to offer and I seriously doubt the population level will ever hit zero. It is a real shame, I wanted to enjoy this, I really did.
Taking stock of The Flock.
Limited timed events are not a new concept to gaming, whether it be completing a challenge to unlock legendary armour, removing Zombies off your lawn for a fancy sun-hat or lapping a track before a leader-board is wiped. A game where its entire contents have an expiration count is a new feature, and one that Dutch developer Vogelsap is hoping to add an unique twist to rival anything else on the market.
The Flock is a horror themed competitive multiplayer game where up to 5 monsters must battle it out on a choice of 3 maps to obtain and hold a light-emitting artifact, he who holds the light, holds the power, however in return you mutate into Roger from American Dad. As Roger you must hold onto this light weapon as long as possible as the 4 other beasts track you. Once they have you the light is transferred into their possession and it is your turn to become the hunter. Your gun will destroy your enemies however if they stand still they will turn to stone and not be killed, this leads to you checking all angles with extreme paranoia as you slowly move around, and just to make the challenge more precarious if you stop moving the light will dim then fail, and you become another one of the diminishing statistics. Once the population falls to zero, the game will not be purchasable, only those who already own The Flock will be able to witness what is titled a “climactic finale”, before the game disappears from the inter-web. The winner is the first to reach the required score which at the time of playing was 100 but has recently been tweaked to 120.
That paragraph pretty much sums up the whole game, graphically I didn’t think much of what was on offer, the creatures were void of great detail and did not induce fear like I expected and the available maps were both bleak and bland, and at the point as I lept towards the carrier the screen flashes white and leads to momentary confusion whilst you try and work out if you were successful or not.
The game does have a neat re-spawn feature which was not apparent in my first few rounds in that you can instantly rejoin the pack in exchange for an amount of your hard earned points, which cost me on my first play session as I was double tapping the controller in frustration after white screen. Also the flock do have some interesting skills such as lunging at their prey, creating a decoy to confuse the Carrier and a battlecry that gives the flock an adrenaline boost.
Currently priced at £12.99 ultimately The Flock provides you it’s entire experience within a 2 hour game session max, I feel no desire to return to these strange lands and by the time the player count drops from the current count of approx 215 million it’s likely to be gathering digital dust in amongst the pile of shame.
- An exciting concept
- Appalling presentation
- Dull gameplay
- Far too expensive