PAX East – Organic Panic Hands-On Impressions

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Organic Panic is a 2.5D Action-Puzzle platformer in development for every platform under the sun. Without a doubt my favorite indie title of PAX East 2014, Organic Panic prides itself in being a platformer with such dynamic environments that just about every inch of the map can be destroyed.

As mentioned, Organic Panic‘s primary claim to fame (among many) is its fantastic physics. Movement is entirely defined by the influence of standard physics: streams of water will flush you away, giant paddles will whack you across the map, and destroyed platforms will tumble away until it finds its stability. As such, environments are dynamic to a point that players might not even be willing to believe it. Just about every inch of the map is destructible. But while destroying everything sounds (and is) fun, proceed with caution, as destroying too much or the wrong things can prevent you from reaching the stage’s goal, forcing you to kill yourself and begin anew.

And here you see one ungrateful player destroying all of Last Limb's hard work.

And here you see one ungrateful player destroying all of Last Limb’s hard work.

And this crazy and chaotic environment is only part of what adds to Organic Panic‘s zaniness. A large contributor to this is the struggle between the plants you control and the meats and cheeses (not a typo, I promise) you fight against. Among your valiant, photosynthesizing warriors are Carrot, Cherry, Kiwi, and Coconut, each with their individual abilities, movement dynamics, and designs. An important aspect of the puzzling is that each character’s strengths and abilities must be used to progress to another part of the stage. The Cherry attacks with Earth, Carrot with fireballs, Coconut with Gravity, and Kiwi with Water. Adding to these intricacies is each character’s size and range of mobility, which makes a serious difference in making jumps.

Why does the Coconut use Gravity? Well according to Last Limb, it is because that's just what coconuts do: they succumb to the effects of gravity and fall.

Why does the Coconut use Gravity? Well according to Last Limb, it is because that’s just what coconuts do: they succumb to the effects of gravity and fall.

Interestingly enough, many puzzles revolve around creating things: building a bridge, a makeshift set of stairs, etc. Organic Panic, however, revolves more around destroying obstacles and manipulating the environment via your individual skills rather than building things. And indeed, the puzzles provide a satisfying challenge without being frustratingly difficult, creating both a fulfilling and enjoyable puzzle experience. Similarly, the platforming is a fun experience that piggybacks off the enjoyment of the puzzle aspects. Indeed, the game’s puzzle aspects bleed into the platforming. As you puzzle your way about the stage, you will be forced to make new and challenging jumps, leaps, and strides.

Lastly, the art design is a joy to marvel at. 2.5D games often come out awkward, but Last Limb Games made it incredibly crisp and inviting. The game’s colors are perfectly suited to their environments. Rather than have a game that is too bright when it need not be, or be too needlessly dark, each stage appears to have been painted to its benefit. Backgrounds are detailed, making the entire map come alive beyond just the sidescrolling plane you traverse. Of course, this detail extends to the same part of the map you play on, which is a very considerate on the part of Last Limb as, realistically speaking, you were probably going to destroy the stage anyway.

Succeeding in this stage involves flooding it with your Kiwi Water and navigating your new options from there.

Succeeding in this stage involves flooding it with your Kiwi Water and navigating your new options from there.

All in all, Organic Panic is one of the greatest examples of what indie games can offer to the industry. Last Limb successfully blends the tropes that have made puzzle-platformers successful all while adding the perfect amount of innovation to keep the genre feeling fresh and progressive. At the time of play, I was told that the game was in alpha. I had never been so surprised to find that a game is still not complete, as it is so well-polished that even if they released it as complete today, the complaints would appear minor, at worst.

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(Editor in Chief)

Alex is the name. I'm a 20-something year old student of law at the University of Florida. Some of my favorite games are Pokemon, Mass Effect, Persona, Titanfall, and Final Fantasy. Outside of games, I lose my cool for such things as the Chicago Bears, Florida Gators, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Power Rangers. Always happy to have a conversation about literally everything besides Seinfeld. Send me stupidities on Twitter @thecastroregime!

  • Daniel Hodgson

    In previews and demos, developers only ever let you see the parts of the game that work. If you had the whole game in front of you, you’d absolutely agree it was in alpha. In fact, it’s somewhat amazing that its presentation is as polished as it is right now.

    It’s not a bad game by any means, it’s just definitely not finished.

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