Ludum Dare is a community driven development competition about taking a single idea and fleshing it out into a real concept in a single weekend. Sometimes these concepts are silly yet more often than not they can ignite the flames of development in the indie community. During the Ludum Dare 28 competition, developers were tasked to craft an idea around the idea that “you only get one.” From that single phrase, Porcunipine was born.
It has been a few months since Porcunipine‘s creation back in December and the developers have been hard at work trying to expand out a weekend’s worth of work into a full experience. Let’s see how this experiment turned full game is turning out.
Porcunipine is the story of a balding warrior porcupine who uses the last thorn on his head in arena combat against wolverines, mutant gerbils, and bears in a quest to claim the skulls of his fallen adversaries. It’s sort of like Gladiator, but with insecure single-spined rodents instead. There is no story in this build, and nothing more than what the game is presenting at face value. There is only one arena to speak of so the emphasis in this build is all on the game’s mechanics.
Our rodent protagonist only has that single spike to his name. The game adjusts to this mechanically by allowing its horn to ricochet twice off of the arena’s walls. This is where chaos should be born, but ultimately it never really becomes something impressive. The game is split between a single survival mode and two multiplayer deathmatch events, but it didn’t ever seem to have a place to define itself. The art is lovely and Porcunipine has a nice song, but there is no hint of brilliance here. The reason for this is simple. It is a one-dimensional game.
Shooting enemies with your spike is as fun as it sounds, but the game doesn’t ever really bring about any adrenaline rush. This is because 2/3 of the enemies on hand will be dodged fairly easily. The small purple enemy just lunges at you, leaving you no room to breathe as you must immediately kill or struggle to ricochet and then hit something that is chasing behind at the same speed as you. All while sitting at half the size of your porcupine. So you, as the player, are stuck with a group of minor threats and one real one as you dodge your own deadly horn flying right back at you.
Big Green Pillow are looking at some form of release this moth and this build might be premature for what could be a multitude of improvements. Right now it feels like an expanded on version of their Ludum Dare entry. I will say though that they have the concept realized. They now need to focus on expanding out the arenas, adding a way to offer a variation on the single shot mechanic, and introducing a more diverse group of enemies.
Porcunipine can have a future, it just needs to grow into something bigger than what we have here. Hopefully it does as I’m a big fan of creative arena shooters like this. Porcunipine is looking to release at some point under $5 on PC late in May with the hopes of a PlayStation and Android port to follow at some point.