I want to join the Flock. I really do. Capcom's downloadable action/strategy game is polished, has personality, and sports a robust feature set that includes a level editor. But the core game mechanic just isn't much fun. Controlling a flying saucer, we're supposed to herd hordes of farm animals onto our mother ship (sorry, Motherflocker). The basic design of the game means the player struggles to keep the animals in line as they get stuck on corners and stray from the herd. It's not broken -- that's what the designers had in mind. But instead of being amusing or entertaining it just feels like a giant chore. Piloting your ship is always awkward, robbing the player of a sense of mastery over the game.
The animals are afraid of the light emitted from your ship and will flee from the beam. Using their fear you can (clumsily) guide them onto your Motherflocker. But there is a lot more to the game than this push mechanic. Animal species each have their own behaviors and will react differently to environmental obstacles. Sheep can't pass fences, but get them wet and they'll shrink enough to squeeze through. Chase cows and they'll stampede, knocking over fences and other obstacles to allow sheep safe passage. Chickens can fly over short distances. All of these quirks and abilities make for a nice variety of challenges, but it's always an inelegant hassle corralling these beasts.
Flock has a very appealing art style, with landscapes that look stitched together like one of your grandmother's quilts. Most every object in the environments can be pushed over, uprooted, or squashed. Animals are charming and all look cute fleeing from your saucer -- they're even cute when you accidentally push them off a ledge and they plop into the water to drown. But what good is all this if the most basic action required by the game isn't enjoyable?
For each small victory the game doles out elements you can use to build your own levels in the editor. Spreading unlockables out over the entire campaign is a great way to keep the player pressing forward for their next tiny reward. The ability to create new levels and download user-generated challenges greatly increases Flock's appeal -- if you find it appealing in the first place. There are also extensive leaderboards and new downloadable levels created by Capcom.
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