Starving for better gameplay
Feed Me Oil 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the quirky and offbeat 2011 physics-puzzler Feed Me Oil from Holy Water Games. Featuring a complete visual overhaul and dozens of new puzzles to complete, players will need to put their thinking caps on to make sure that all of the mechanical inhabitants of this oily little world get their inner engines up and running again. It’s just a shame that the gameplay itself constantly feels like it’s running on empty.
The game plays out like an incredibly simplified cross between Where’s My Water? and The Incredible Machine. At the start of each stage, players are tasked with placing various objects on the screen to help guide a stream of oil from a starting faucet and into a finishing area, designated by a dotted white line. You’ll then hit a play button to see if your setup worked, adjusting and trying again if your calculations were a little bit off: these mech-animals are pretty hungry after all, and you’ll need to deliver a numerical amount of oil to each one of them. Players can earn three stars in each stage by using the least amount of available parts to complete their oil feeding requirements.
The visuals are easily the best part of the game, and a huge step up from the original 2011 puzzler. The world of Feed Me Oil 2 is full of quirky and mechanical fun, with many of the robotic animals watching you play with endearing googly eyes. From turtles and foxes, to snails and other creatures I can’t even categorize, you’ll always be surprised to see what kind of fun new screen is waiting around the next bend. While the backgrounds themselves are brought to life through a whimsical and almost painted design, the bubbly texture of the oil itself forms a nice contrast that really allows the game’s presentation to shine (especially when it clashes with the water in the game).
If only the actual gameplay felt even a fraction as inspired as the new art design. Many of the same adjustable parts from the first Feed Me Oil make a return here, and the lack of variety or depth to them was actually a little surprising. You’ll spend the majority of your time in the game dealing with the likes of fans, girders, and oil spout objects that redirect your flow in different directions, and very little else. With so many of the initial 60 or so stages feeling like breezy tutorials, the long stretches you’ll go before something new happens – before anything new happens – can quickly cause you to lose your interest and never get it back.
Things also start off on the wrong note too, with players being forced to accept some murky online contract upon starting the app for the first time, and then immediately being panhandled to connect to Facebook before you even get to see the title screen (this panhandling continues after the completion of every stage). There’s no real story to be had here, either: just the knowledge that you’ll need to be feeding things oil, which you’ll have already surmised just from reading the game’s title.
But sadly, a lot of the bigger problems with Feed Me Oil 2 are actually rooted in the very foundations of the game itself. For instance, sometimes it can be impossible to differentiate between the set pieces of the environment that will affect your oil flow and the idle background decorations: especially since you can break the laws of physics and slap your tools over anything on the screen, regardless of position or perspective. And while we’re on the topic of physics, your oil flow will rarely move the way you want it to, or really think that it should. There also seems to be no rhyme or reason to this, either: sometimes just simply spamming the play button over and over again will allow you to eventually win without adjusting a single thing on the game screen.
Beyond all that, Feed Me Oil 2 just simply lacks the kind of excitement and heart needed to power through the first handful of stages. While the gameplay might have fared better on the mobile scene a few years ago, it quickly becomes clear that Holy Water Games needed to revamp more than just the visuals to keep this one from feeling like a slippery mess at the start of 2014. I just hope my quirky new mechanical animal friends will be okay once I stop dishing out their oil in the near future!