Indie Review

Final Specimen: Arrival Review

Final Specimen Thomas

Gigantoraptor Games’ debut game follows the strange story of Thomas. Through bizarre levels and encounters, Thomas uncovers the bigger picture behind his alien abduction.

Quick PC gaming history fact, during the 80’s and 90’s there were Shareware games. These were types of proprietary software where people were allowed and often encouraged to make copies of the program. Most of these games were sold in massive bundles of thirty games or so, or they’d be distributed for free.

 The reason why I mention this is because these kinds of games are for a niche group of people. These types of games were played on DOS and early Windows operating systems. The games sometimes showcased bad graphics and worn out gameplay, and this game follows suit. Final Specimen is a side-scrolling platformer that at its core mechanics resemblant to the first Super Mario, and Captain Comic.

Thomas The Final Specimen
Thomas in the Lost Woods

Narrative

Final Specimen follows the story of a man named Thomas who is taken from Earth during a meteor shower. He awakens in a series of tubes, and lands on the planet Groovitopeler where he meets the inhabitants who are other humans. After felease, hee is set on the trail of a mysterious alien and his elderly human servant. Thomas finds out that he possesses something within him than an Alien known as “Monster” wants.

 Final Specimen Tuna Geezer Monster doofusville
Monster and Geezer Talking to Tuna

The concept of this story had, I think, a lot of zing to it so it would be able to draw you in with the zaniness and randomness like flying through tubes in one level then in the next few levels, you’re punching flying pizzas out of the air. But the execution of the game, however, is extremely lackluster and is almost insufferable at times. The story just seemed to go through the motions while trying to add some subpar humor.

Gameplay

While for the most part, this game is simple, there are moments in this game that are completely baffling and take a few times going through to understand. At least in this game, they do offer a few different path you can take on each map, which prevents the game from feeling extremely linear and can give you some variation.

Thomas Final Specimen
This part was one of the few difficult parts that I encountered

Some of the boss battles aren’t too hard to figure out, just take your time and watch the pattern. The hit points usually will flash, so watch for those.  Most of them require a series of hits before the counter will go down. The gameplay overall felt uninspired and lacking, and outside of the boss battles the game is stale.

The game consists of eight levels, that are pretty lengthy and can get on your nerves. As of writing this, they have no save option if you wanna finish the game you must be committed. They have announced that they will add the option to save, but no information has been yet released as to when that will be.

Performance & Graphics

I felt like the graphics and art design are extremely elementary, even though they’re intended.  They shouldn’t have used the same face for almost all of the humans,  at least give it some variety. Some of the backgrounds did span in diversity going from the mountains to the city, to space, but it felt overly repetitive. In one specific background, the mid ground switches between two houses almost seeing one-half of a house on each side of the screen.

Thomas The Final Specimen Boss
This was one of the harder bosses in the game

The controls can be frustrating at times and can only be changed at the main menu. The default key for a jump is not the spacebar, and this posed some frustrations because I was unaware I could change the controls until later. The game does work well, however, when you change the jump key situation. I found myself pressing the wrong buttons since the default keys are  A,S,D.

Audio

The music to this game wasn’t too bad actually, each song unique from one another and they provided a range of sounds and genres. Some of the melodies though very simple were quite infectious.  The sound effects had me laughing at times, especially when I died. The noise that Thomas makes had me chuckling and making the noise obnoxiously in my house. One of the biggest downside to this game is the voice acting, not only is it flat and boring it’s the same person using a variation of the same voice.

Final Thoughts

There are older games that may not have had the best graphics, but at least they were decent and the overall presentation of those games were solid, this game feels like it was someone’s College senior project that they decided to sell, which I have ovation for if that’s the case. I do know that this is this developer’s first game published. We all have to start somewhere and I do respect the position that they’re in, being an indie developer.

To me, games need to have either a good story, great gameplay, or amazing art design or at least a small combination of the three. This game I’d say had the structure for what could be a decent story, but there are too many other platformers that offer way more than what this game has to offer.

With this game being a throwback to the shareware days I do feel like this game does do it justice in the attempt of what it represents, though I feel they could have done a little more with the story by giving a little more detail, or better art design, or added something else to the gameplay. If you’re looking to satisfy your platformer itch and you’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel, give this a try.

The Final Specimen is out now on Steam

Score: 5

 

About the author

Liam "McBiggz" McGinn

Just a dude who's a dad and loves video games, media, and heavy music

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