So my original plan was to start playing and covering Dragon Age: Origins, but then I spent two hours trying to decide on my character. So instead, let’s talk about the best murder simulator since The Sims.
Kill the Bad Guy is a puzzle game where you are tasked with–as you might have guessed from the title–assassinating different bad guys in the world using your environment. I’m not entirely sure who I play, whether it is an invisible ninja who can teleport all over the environment or a god-like creature who gets a kick out of smiting people in Final Destination-style ways; it’s only important that you are all-powerful, the way I like it.
The graphics are simple and entirely white with the exception of the usable objects in the level and the target himself. You click on the various items and figure out which can interact and which can be broken. It starts off simple with you activating a car to go out of control when he walk in front of it, splattering his blood all over the side of a building. As the levels progress though, you are given more ways to kill him with pieces of the city. The most satisfying was when I could bust a gas line and then set it on fire. For the longest time, I only noticed the lighters and could not figure out what I was supposed to do. I’d try to block his path with them, but then he would run away in fear. Then I finally realized I could interact with these pipes crawling up the side of two different buildings. You have to set it alight right as he is walking through so he catches on fire and runs around until he dies.
What makes this the most fun is how the game is all violence with minimal gratuity. I’m not squeamish, but I do tend to feel uneasy with blood in games. Maybe it’s from growing up on cartoon games, but whenever I can turn off blood in the settings, I do. Here the only realistic violence is right when he dies and his blood splatters. It’s so cartoony though, and all of the villains are identical, so it let’s me have fun with the assassinations without feeling sick. I mean, you even get extra points for spilt blood, and I’m still cool with it; that’s a feat in itself.
The scoring system is similar to most puzzle games with self-contained levels where you have so many stars for how well you do except instead of the stars representing a score threshold, each one represents the completion of a different task. You get a star if you finish the level in one day–the equivalent of one try–if you find the passport and the target’s tooth after it goes flying from his body, and if you complete the secondary objective.
But let’s break a few of these down because they are what make the game a little bit more complex. Though it is simple, this is where the different layers come in.
Both finding the passport and the tooth act as a timed hidden object puzzle. You must find the document while simultaneously setting up the environment for the bad guy’s assassination. To get all five stars you also have to do this during the first day. You then have about five seconds after the guy dies to find the tooth. You can see the trajectory as it flies away from his body but are still crunched for time as you hunt all over the barren city sector.
Then the secondary objectives act as a riddle. Each one is vague–almost an oversimplified version of the Riddler’s environmental scan puzzles in the Arkham games–only pushing you in the direction of the way it’s wants the murder to go down. Some are fairly easy to guess after looking the level. I mean, you’d have to go out of your way not to kill them the way you’re asked. For example, one is, “They say water isn’t a good conductor. Let’s see, shall we?” Then there are fire hydrants you can rig and power lines you can cut, making the best way pretty clear from the start. The only time I killed him every other way was when I accidentally cut the wire too early, and it hit him instead of the stream I had made in the street.
You are also rewarded extra points for speed and how much blood there is, encouraging you to play quick and dirty. This is counter-intuitive to how I think of any game with assassination, but for this, it fits.
Now I can’t say if I’ll finish this up over the weekend or if I’ll get a real start to Dragon Age. Right now I’m curling up in bed with Phoenix Wright, and pretending my work week never happened. Stay tuned.