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Flockers Preview

Ewe won’t believe it

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It’s been more than a decade since Team17 created a new IP. For many, it’s only known as the studio that created various Worms games. But, with Flockers it’s finally back to show that they aren’t a one-trick-pony studio, and this time it’s certainly not pulling any punches; even if this new IP is still linked to Worms through its cheeky storyline.

Set inside the factory where sheep bombs are made, your task is to help these wooly mammals escape their grisly and explosive fate. You’ll be doing this through Lemmings-like gameplay, although to say it’s a clone of Lemmings is to do it great disservice, because this is a completely original idea.

In the three levels we sat down to play, it was clear that this is very much a physics-based puzzler, making smart use of traps and moving hazards can see you progress through levels relatively unscathed. But failure to manage your herd will result in some deaths. And these are really gory deaths. While Worms violence was good clean fun, Flockers goes for the macabre angle. Sheep explode on death, guts fly across the screen, lamb chops and liver left in their wake – with blood staining the map and objects around it. It’s grisly stuff, but so over the top it’s hilarious to watch.

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As you may have guessed, the aim of each level is to move the sheep from the entrance, to the exit. That’s about as close to Lemmings as it gets. Handily, Team17 has placed checkpoint-like teleporters through some levels, allowing you to step back and think while sheep walk in a safe and endless loop. The only abilities we were given for this preview build at EGX Rezzed was the ability to create jumping sheep, or ‘super sheep’. As you can imagine, jumping sheep can jump gaps, and super sheep can fly up walls. There was also the ability to create exploding sheep to clear obstacles, or we could also stack sheep for use as steps over low obstacles, or as a means to hold up a platform.

It’s inventive stuff, and you can only make use of these abilities by picking up Worms-like ability drops. There will be times where you just won’t get to all of them, and you’ll probably lose sheep in the process. But that’s the joy of the puzzle aspect. You’ll also find times where you have to sacrifice some of your herd to ensure others survive, a necessary evil really.

It may be early days, set for a release towards the end of summer this year, but I for one can’t wait to see more of what this dark and twisted game can throw my way. If you ever played Sheep back in the ‘90s, or Lemmings then you’ll absolutely love this. It’s dark, funny, and – so far at least – seems like it’ll put up quite the challenge.

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