The opening moments of BLUK would have you think it was a high concept story led game. That’s a nice thought, but BLUK is a high score chasing game first and foremost. Almost exclusively skills based (luck is sometimes useful too), it has you needing to leap from pillar to pillar in a bid to get to the end. Impatient players may find themselves frustrated early on, but there’s a simple satisfaction in nailing a great score.
Each level is distinctly minimalist in appearance. Your small block has to leap between the simple looking pillars. Each level is procedurally created, meaning memorization won’t help you here. Instead, each experience is slightly different from the last. Sometimes, a series of pillars might be flatly lined up, while another time, they might be raised significantly or lowered a great deal. The general idea is the same though – safely reach them.
Moving is a matter of dragging a finger back to line up the trajectory just so, before releasing and hoping for the best. Hit the pillar right in the center and you gain extra points for accuracy. Overshoot a pillar but manage to land on another one, and you gain points for your ‘leap of faith’. The trick for high scores is to combine these as often as possible.
At first, it might seem near impossible to ever successfully achieve a great new score. Early on, your scores are going to be painfully low. Like so many skills based games though, practice makes perfect. OK, maybe not perfect exactly, but it improves your chances of gaining a decent score. The controls are effective enough that pretty much anyone who’s spent a few minutes with Angry Birds can figure them out, although obviously it’s much more challenging than this.
The further you progress, the further things open up. BLUK works on a world/level basis, meaning things do change as you go. For instance, some pillars start to fall over once you land on them, enhancing the need to rush through your next move. You can unlock special abilities too, improving your chances of a better score in the long run. It never gets easier, but you at least have the satisfaction of feeling like you’re getting somewhere. There’s a kind of storyline in there too, but there’s no requirement to actually follow it. Instead, you can just pursue the fun of beating your previous high score.
Throughout, BLUK appears really quite delightful. It’s stylish in its simplicity, reminding you of so many arty indie titles, but with a more typically ‘game’ like motivation behind it. It creates atmosphere too, giving you the sense of being some kind of magical force. Or, you know, if you want, you can just see it as a block trying to get from A to B. It works on both levels.
BLUK’s only real flaw is its slight camera issues. At times, if you land too near the edge of a pillar, it can be tricky to see fully where you’re going next. It doesn’t always happen but it’s particularly grating when you’re scoring high, and you’re left to guess what’s going to happen next. That aside, and BLUK remains a stylishly tricky platformer that’s bound to test your patience as well as your skill levels.