Browser-based bicycle rides are few and far between nowadays. Maybe that's the reason Fig. 8 makes us smile so much. Its playful title serves as something of a double entendre, referring to the manoeuvring of the bicycle as easily as it does to the landscape on which you'll be cycling. Rather than riding through picturesque scenery and charming country roads, Fig. 8 will have you cycling through technical schematics on an endless sheet of paper.
In the world of Fig.8 everything you see that's not you're bicycle is an obstacle. Cycling along an endless schematic, there's only one rule you need to remember: if it's been drawn in ink it's something to be avoided. The object is to cycle as far as you can before taking a tumble and returning to the last checkpoint. The farther you make it, the higher your score. But distance isn't the only thing that's impacting your numbers.
Improving your score is all about stay on the straight and narrow. You'll receive a rapidly increasing multiplier the longer you keep your front and back tires aligned, which means keeping a straight line going. You can keep the multiplier going when you turn, but only if you hold down the shift key and make slower turns that down require you making a big shift in the handlebars. Since so many objects in the game require quick manoeuvres, this isn't always an option. If you want to up that score you'll need to think on the fly and try to find the path of least resistance to navigate without breaking into a hard right.
Much of the challenge in Fig. 8 comes from the constantly moving camera. The camera will continue to move along a predetermined path at a fixed speed. This means you won't be able to explore the map willy nilly and find the safest path to navigate. While this provides an understandable level of challenge, it also has a weak spot: the camera has no problem leaving you behind.
If you're taking it slow and safe in a big cluster of circles or trying to get around that hard to reach checkpoint, there's an incredibly good chance your bike is going to end up off camera. Unless you can conquer some off camera navigation (which way is my bike facing? Are there any obstacles in the way?) you're going to have to kiss your progress goodbye and return to the last checkpoint.
Despite the sometimes challenging landscape, Fig. 8 plays out like a nice leisurely bike ride on a Sunday afternoon. The cheerful music and minimalist visuals remind us of a simpler time. There's a very “riding a bicycle in a French film from the 1950's” vibe to the experience, and we loved every element that helped to frame this charming presentation. If not for some camera frustrations and a few tough patches to navigate, this would be an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a laid back Sunday afternoon experience. Instead we're left with a wonderful presentation and comfortable gameplay with a few design flaws that keep Fig. 8 from achieving greatness.