Creatures made from drippings of ink may be as adorable as can be, but that doesn't mean they're very bright. In Scribble you'll be responsible for the safety of group of ink blots, a family of cute little creations that just don't know how to stop walking. How do they expect you to protect these pen-dripped people from the predators and pitfalls that permeate the panorama? By scribbling, of course!
Drawing inspiration from the classic Lemmings, Scribble places you as a helper outside of the game world, giving the creatures within the tools they need to reach their goals. But unlike Lemmings, which had you assigning jobs and roles to individual creatures, Scribble puts a mighty pen in your hand which you'll use to draw platforms and paths for the blots to use. The paths you draw will guide the blots over obstacles, past canyons, and around enemies.
Paths aren't all you'll be drawing. Scribbling a vertical line will make an impassable barrier for your blots. Connecting a fire to a bomb with a sketch will blow up a part of the scenery for your blots to pass through. Even certain enemies can be defeated with a few well placed strokes of the pen. There's a surprising amount of depth for a game that based around the simple idea of scribbling, and the level design is ingenious enough that Scribble stays fun all through it's 25 levels of platform guidance goodness. Yes, Scribble is a game with a mountain of potential. Unfortunately that potential is met with bittersweet execution.
Poor choices on the part of the developer become apparent fairly quickly and are far too frequent to be ignored. In nearly every level there's a potential hazard or pitfall that your blots will get stuck in. While in theory this should help to the challenge and heighten the gameplay experience, poor choices in design mean that getting out of a tight spot is a near impossible task. More often than not you'll find yourself restarting the level from scratch. It's an experience that's beyond frustrating, and one that you'll encounter far more than you should.
Some of the flaws that lead to the problems in tight spaces carry over to the rest of the game as well. Your blots can only walk along a line that doesn't feature a steep curve. Again, in theory that's an understandable decision. But it just falls apart in execution. Building ramps to move your blots to another platform means drawing an incline, and unless you have the rock steady hands of a cold war scientist, you're likely going to go a little off course and make a bump in your track from time to time. Combine the bump with the incline, and you've just created an impassible obstacle. Sure you can wait for the ink to disappear and try again, but when it's something that creeps up with such frequency it's just a huge pain.
One issue begets another. You'll want to try and draw another line right away, but since you can't erase the problem line you'll try to work around it. Eventually you'll create a big mess of scribbles that you'll have to wait out before starting fresh. And then there are the issues when you do get that perfect line. With a troop of blots walking back and forth, you're liable to have one or two stuck behind the line that is carrying the others to safety. Now you have two groups to maneuver instead of just the one because blots are becoming separated from their brethren.
Scribble has a lot to offer. A lengthy single player experience, original gameplay mechanics, a unique art style and soundtrack — it should all add up to something brilliant, and if not for the problematic controls it probably would have. Instead we're left with a beautiful presentation and a fun idea that fumbles hard when it comes to actual execution.