A Virus Named Tom [Review]
August 9, 2012
Rarely to players get to star in the role of the bad guy in a puzzle game. Usually you’re trying to decode something for the greater good, even if the plot of the story is not that complicated. And then comes along A Virus Named Tom, a puzzle game that has you infecting technology in order to realize the malicious dreams of a dishonored mad scientist. He was fired for being too crazy after having hand in the creation of the world of tomorrow, and he’s not happy about it.
The mad scientist creates a virus named Tom, whose goal is to infect technology that had been invented by the scientist in order to exact revenge on the people that shunned him. So with great purpose, you play as the virus spreading robot named Tom.
The game looks simple at first. It’s a puzzle game that resembles Pipedream. Looks can be deceiving, especially in this case. The main goal is to make a complete circuit, or in later levels a few complete circuits, and then the virus has successfully spread. It’s a cakewalk for maybe the first few levels.
As the levels progress, you start to encounter obstacles that make it incredibly difficult to complete the circuit without your energy running out. I guess I didn’t mention that the game is essentially timed. Virus/robot things don’t have unlimited energy, and Tom is living on borrowed time. Some levels give you more time to work with than others, and it can be incredibly frustrating when the levels only give you a minute.
One of the biggest obstacles would be the little bugs that crawl along grid lines in order to intercept Tom. They go on the same route and at varying speeds, so it’s usually necessary to weave around them and try not to get hit. If Tom is hit by one of these, he loses a little energy and is beamed back to one of the four corners of the game.
Besides bugs, some levels are encrypted, which basically means all the pieces of the circuit have been replaced by question marks. They only reveal themselves when connected to power, and as soon as they are disconnected from the hub of power they turn back into questions marks again. It’s essential to have a good memory to play this game well, or else you’ll be running around in circles trying to reveal the blocks.
After the first few levels, things take on an entirely new breed of challenge. The power sources that have illuminated connected pieces are no longer present. This isn’t so bad at first, when you can see the circuits, but during the encrypted levels it’s next to impossible. Glitch bombs, which temporarily freeze the bugs, are necessary to light up the circuits. There are different bugs that light up the circuits when you can time them to collide with the regular ones.
If you can make it through all the levels, this game still has a ton of replay value. Scores for the levels are on a medal basis, so it is possible to get gold in every level with a lot of work. Besides the single player campaign, there are also cooperative and versus modes.
A Virus Named Tom is a unique game that borrows gameplay from a few different games like Pac-Man, Pipedream, and Memory. What emerges is an entirely different puzzle game with delightful story and challenging levels. It’s a great game for those that enjoy a challenge.
[Images via Misfits Attic]
Out Of 5
A Virus Named Tom
The general graphics of the game are simple, yet impressive for a simple puzzle game. Animations on screen are well done. Cut-scenes resemble stop-motion with a 2D cartoon style.
The music in the game is a little repetitive, and will probably annoy you and whoever is in the room with you after a few levels. Muting the sound makes the game harder because you lose the sound effects, so it would be nice if it were a bit less repetitive.
The controls worked well and I didn't have any issues with them. Players can use the keyboard or a controller to navigate through the game. It would likely be a lot easier to play with a standard controller.
Levels are challenging and at the same time frustrating. The learning curve after the first cluster of levels is steep and beating the levels will take more than a few tries. The desire to get gold in every level will keep most players busy for a while.
The only thing that stops this game from being the most fun you've ever had in a puzzle game is frustration. It is legitimately frustrating to fail at a level 10-15 times before beating it.