Previews

Insecticide

Cracking the shell of the first two levels of the creepy-crawly adventure

Insecticide
|
DS
| Insecticide

Most game developers scurry about in the weeks leading up to a game's release to zap glitches. But for Crackpot, the team behind Insecticide, the bugs keep multiplying. Cockroaches, beetles, grasshoppers, and all manner of arthropods scurry about the screen as we take our second hands-on look of this film noir-styled adventure. Playing through the first couple of levels of a near-final build, it's clearer than ever that Gamecock has a highly original, if not entirely flawless, game on its hands.

Insecticide puts you in the exoskeleton of Detective Chrys Liszt, and partner Roachy Caruthers, as they scramble to solve a murder case. Piecing together the crime involves chasing down suspects and persons of interest as well as a bit of investigative work. The game switches between platform-action sequences and adventure levels where you collect objects and solve puzzles.

At the beginning of the game you're immediately thrust into the action after running after a spitter bug that's wanted for questioning. A gorgeously rendered cutscene sets up the scene and then you're off to chase him down. Movement is handled via the directional pad, which also serves to adjust the camera. You can jump by tapping the B button. When you have a weapon equipped, hitting R fires it. Later in the game you switch among multiple weapons using the touch screen inventory, although we only had access to a simple pollen gun.

As we discovered during our first hands-on session, the D-pad serving two functions is an issue because it makes getting around slow. Chrys runs with sufficient speed, yet she can only move backwards or forwards. Pressing left or right pans the camera accordingly; therefore, moving to the left means sliding the camera left first and then moving forward. Holding the L button allows you to strafe when firing at enemies, which makes things slightly easier but not perfect. It's far from ideal and runs the risk of cramping the action.

Switching gears from action to adventure and things definitely improve though. The game's second level takes your recently arrested perpetrator down to the local precinct for interrogation.

A wanted criminal known as the Soda Bomber has been evading the law and the cretin has information on the case. Completing the case file on the Soda Bomber is the only way the chief will let you go home for the night, so the sooner you rough up the goon up for tips the sooner you go home.

Interviewing the suspect is a two-step process in which you need to first grab a tap recorder from Chrys' desk. As you walk around the office, a magnifying lens icon pops up next to objects that you can interact with. Tapping the icon or hitting the B button shifts the perspective of the bottom screen. A detailed view of the area gives you the opportunity to select items and put them into your inventory. Not every object can be interacted with, although it's fairly easy to decipher which objects are essential.

Extracting the information you need from is a cinch with the tape recorder now in your possession. Similar to how the magnifying lens icon appears next to interactive objects, characters that you can speak to feature a talking bubble icon. Triggering the icon brings up dialogue on the touch screen, as well as in your inventory. Tap the recorder and the interrogation begins. Once finished, a report of your questioning goes into the Soda Bomber case file. Other pieces of evidence are needed to complete the file, collected by talking up fellow detectives in the precinct.

Mixing action and adventure elements gives Insecticide a unique tinge that's only furthered by its visuals. Levels are rendered in full three-dimensions and with surprising detail. Even better is its quirky style that has a dash grit thrown in with its sarcasm. Old fashioned detective stories are hard to come by these days, so when it hit shops next month we'll make sure we do a little investigating ourselves on how Insecticide turns out.