A Different Game for a Different Crowd
Glitch – a temporary malfunction or irregularity, a hitch, a snag. What imagery could a game with a name like that arouse? Created by the founders of Flicker, Tiny Speck developed Glitch as a web based, 2-D side scrolling game with a little platforming and that’s where it diverges from your regular, eXPected game world. The world you inhabit is created by the imagination of eleven Giants and you actually start your journey among the Neurons of such a brain before exiting into the greater world beyond.
To show you what an extraordinary world you are in, one of your first quests takes you to the Eesti Life Catalog, page 17 where you interact with a dust bunny and swallow a firefly whistle. Why? So you can whistle fireflies into a firefly bottle to do things like light up a Halloween pumpkin.
Let’s start off by remembering that Glitch is a 2-D web based game with all the inherent limitations of Flash graphics, and players are all in the same world. That said Glitch features hand-drawn artwork that ranges from Japanese Manga style to comic book graphics to some totally whacked out Psychedelic trips. The lands are diverse. From pastoral settings to desserts and in some regions, the streets are so similar, you’d think you’ve passed that way before, if not for the different shrine, street spirit (vendor) and name. Unlock a door, however, and you may enter a space that’s simply put, quite different.
In Glitch, you have two stat bars; a mood bar and an energy bar, and the XP meter. Mood is your happiness factor and energy governs every action in game. The higher your mood, the more XP you receive when you perform actions, and almost every action in game gains XP, it may be as little as 1 or 2 but you continue ever forward. Each action also gains you favor with the Giants as they are patrons of your entire life as a “Glitchen.”
Skills, crafting, exploration and achievements is what this game is all about. In a slightly different way. You squeeze chickens for grain, pet trees and harvest their goods, pet piggies and they invite you to take a nibble off them. They talk to you too, everything. The rocks, the trees, the animals. Try to milk a butterfly before you massage it and it disses you: “What? No warm-up? No preamble? You just walk up to a butterfly with your clammy hands and try to milk it? You have a lot to learn about charming butterflies."
All basic actions are unlocked and you only have to buy the tool, like a hoe, pick or watering can, but learning the first mining skill for example, shortens the time and increases your chances to harvest a rare. Animal Kinship can raise your abilities to the extent that you get more harvests from an animal and without the preamble of petting or massaging first. Skills range from the aforementioned Animal Kinship to Penpersonship (required for writing notes), from EZ Cooking to Transcendental Radiation – Yes, I CAN make you feel better with the power of my mind.
Travel and exploration is a big part of the game. The first time you explore a street gives you the highest XP boost of any action in game and the world is huge. At level 25, I’ve still yet to explore many regions of the world. Travel is mostly by foot, and with the interactive map, you can set your destination (even offline). Subway travel costs 50 currents but has to be unlocked by getting your official papers and card carrying achievement which is a quest that’s a hoot in itself, making fun of bureaucratic processes at the government agencies. The NPCs are crocodiles and you can get passed from one guy to another for answering a random question incorrectly, and I mean random: “Which is better? Fireflies or Piggies?”
Achievements range from Amateur Bean Tree Fondler to Jammy Dodger, from Hardcore Carnivore, to Zombie – dying 251 times. No round numbers for Glitch and a quick survey leads me to think that achievements are all prime numbers. Oh and dying? You run out of energy. From being AFK to just not paying attention. You end up in Hell and have to stomp on grapes to get out, whereby you end up with not energy or mood and with either have to eat and drink or wait out for the dawning of a new day when all mood and energy is replenished.
There are also all sorts of little rewards hanging about in game that invite players to do a little platforming action to obtain. Currants (The in-game currency. Currency – get it?), Mood, XP and even Favor icons are there for the harvesting if players will do a little jumping and climbing.
Quests are rather lacking in Glitch and most are related to the learning of a new skill. Some have to be completed in order to advance and some are level triggered, like the one that takes you on a fantastic journey when you hit level 20 – a journey which I made actually, at level 19 because I had a few hours to play, checked out the maps and decided that the tower in Jetimadh looked like an interesting journey to take. I haven’t completed all the objectives in there, and now that I have the quest, will head on over one evening to get the quest rewards.
Players can expect the unexpected in Glitch. From Rube who approaches you with a trade, to the Smuggler who pops up and asks you to make a run for him, to the Juju Bandit who accost you and try to steal something insignificant from your inventory.
There is only one game world and in the first month of launch, Glitch limited daily invites to the game so as not to overload the system, and AFK players continue to use energy and if not replenished, get kicked to Hell, leaving a little tombstone behind. Their main innovation is their daring to be different, but what a difference it is. Providing a different and diverse experience, from pranking everyone in the vicinity by scattering sneezing powder until they sneeze out a bean, to discovering hidden rooms and paths.
In another innovative move though, Glitch is not gender specific. Your character has a blob for a body and a blob for a head. Except for the name, the gender identifying traits of your character can be changed hourly if you like. Give it fangs, pop-eyes, a bald head and a barrel for clothing and you’re gender neutral. A fancy hair up-do, rose-bud lips and sweetly lashed eyes and a dress, and you’re female.
There’s also the cubical boxes that when opened, yield little cube animals that can be used to race against other players and music blocks that play music. These are obtained through random drops although squeezing chickens seem to yield a good many of them.
Glitch is also a sandbox game and player actions will affect the world they are in. Trees can be poisoned (they cry for help) and a different tree grown in its place. Piggies can be captured and auctioned off or transferred to another street. If players can manage to, they can overpopulate a street with animals and they will die off just as quickly.
Although there were glitches (pun intended) and bugs reported at launch, I was lucky enough not to have encountered any of them. Tiny Speck keeps its player base informed through blog posts. It’s a web based, 2-D game, played through your flash capable browser and through the various web pages which are well designed with minimal clutter. A Facebook connection helps you find your friends who are also playing the game.
With something for everyone, especially those who like to call themselves non-gamers, Glitch will continue to draw in the curious. Although not designed as a kid’s game, the fascinatingly curious, off-center world tends to draw them in and the non-violent nature of the game makes parents feel better about their kids playing them. Whether they remain in the long term is another matter altogether, but this segues nicely into the social aspect of the game.
Global chat and hanging out at specific locations including party locations is the thing to do in Glitch. Then, everything you do with another player yields rewards. Help someone harvest a resource node and although the node gets depleted faster, you get more resources from it. Some quests send you to help someone – anyone – complete an action. Players give each other random things for achievements and one of the fun things done this Halloween was placing candy outside houses as well as distributing candy to strangers. There are chat groups and housing associations for players to join, and of course everything you do with other players – giving them a hug with an Emotional Bear, bestowing a Random Kindness, all yield some reward. Be it XP, currants, mood or all three.
There isn’t any combat in Glitch, but you can find mini-game ticket dispensers around that you compete against other Glitchen. Hang out in a populated area and you’ll soon see someone asking others to play a game or you might run across an interactive beacon for other players to click on to play.
The game is Free to Play and there is no real reason to pay for this game if you are satisfied with the limited free character customization and clothing choices. In fact, many players pay for a subscription simply to thank Tiny Speck for the game. That is not to say that subscriptions do not have value. They provide credits to spend on clothing, teleportation tokens and the ability to vote on Glitch referendums, which are polls which determine which features and new content should get priority. Players who enjoy changing their character’s looks can also buy extra credits through the customization page.
I dabbled in this game during beta but really started playing it when it launched. Glitch is a great game for the explorers, the crafters and the casual player as well. Those who delight in the fantastic and discovery will likely enjoy this game. Animals can be renamed at will and discovering a street full of chicken Agent Smiths and a single Piggy named Neo was a delight.
I’m a crafting and economic player and love playing the auction game, checking the auction page on the web during a coffee break to put up an auction or purchase a resource I’d rather not spend the time harvesting buying low and selling high. You see, I might eventually want to buy a larger house. Not that I’m dissatisfied with my current place which cost me 7,500 currants but I’ve got stuff all over the floor as there’s not enough storage space and the biggest, grandest mansions cost 40,000 currants on up. I admit, I’m hooked.
Overall, an outstanding and solid 8.3 for Glitch. An MMO that marches to a different drummer.