Little Deviants Review
It makes perfect sense to have a game that showcases the nifty features of a unique piece of hardware. Little Deviants utilizes the front and rear touchpads, tilt function, and even the camera and microphone of the PlayStation Vita, so in theory, it should be a great launch option. But the ho-hum nature of the presentation and a few poor design choices makes this one more irritating than it has a right to be.
On the surface, the visual presentation is actually quite attractive. Theres’s a zany charm to appreciate, as those cute albeit bizarre Deviants have an undeniable appeal. Furthermore, many of the levels boast a fair amount of imagination and quaint creativity, often mixed with a loopy sense of style. The only problem is that it all seems to lose its luster very quickly. Then you’ll start to realize that overall, there really isn’t an impressive amount of refinement and achievement.
The sound suffers from a repetitive, annoying soundtrack and a few mediocre effects that start to grate after the first ten minutes. The quality of the audio is erratic; it bounces all over the place throughout the production, as some levels are pretty good, while others have you reaching for the volume control. There isn’t much else to talk about concerning the technical elements, as they’re not anything to write home about; the developers obviously focused more on the Vita-specific features.
And as I said before, this would’ve been fine, provided those features were cleverly and appropriately implemented into an entertaining, diverse adventure. On the plus side, Little Deviants does have quite a bit of variety. There are 16 total game types so you won’t be doing the same thing over and over, and that’s pretty cool considering that none of these games require the use of the analog sticks. So yeah, you will be doing a bunch of different things with the touch, tilt, and camera features.
But unfortunately, it’s just not that much fun. For instance, the first thing you do is cause your Deviant to roll around by causing the land beneath it to rise up, creating hills. You do this by dragging your finger across the rear touchpad. Now, not only is this a little counter-intuitive in my eyes, but it’s also extremely unreliable. I could never quite figure out the best way to generate those hills, and the goal – get a key and reach the exit – was too bland and generic for me to care.
After, I participated in some races, had a chance to aim at robots with a cannon, and maneuvered my odd little creature through a maze with the tilt function. Sometimes, you’re not even holding the Vita horizontally (but it was crazy awkward). So the gameplay diversity is here but in truth, I’ve never had more trouble holding a portable game system. You’re constantly trying to shift your grip so you can perform better with a certain game type and occasionally, it doesn’t matter what you try; it’ll still be uncomfortable and frustrating.
Anything that requires you to move quickly, like the game types that have you running away from something, is terrible. You can’t see enough of the environment and the steering is a colossal pain in the ass. It’s too bad, too, because a lot of the games had a ton of potential and in fact, some work out just fine once you’ve figured out how to hold the damn unit. But none have any real staying power and a few are just plain boring. Variety doesn’t mean much if the execution is iffy and the fun factor is strangely low.
The only lasting impression one receives is this: somebody didn’t set out to create an interesting, entertaining game; they set out to make a vehicle for the PlayStation Vita. It’s clear at every turn that the designers only cared about working with the system’s unique and potentially innovative features. It’s like they sat down and said, “okay, we have this feature; how do we take advantage of it?” rather than saying, “we’re going to make the game we want first, and then think about gimmicky features later.”
Little Deviants has some ambition and creativity and it’s often inarguably amusing. But the generic, bland nature of the goals in each game mode, the lackluster presentation, and the erratic and unreliable control hinder it big time. Worse, there’s always a pervading sense that this is less a game and more of an incomplete production with only hardware features as the inspiration. That’s not the right way to generate an engaging, addictive piece of software. It just isn't.
The Good: Amusing, charismatic style. Plenty of variety. Mildly interesting use of the Vita’s features.
The Bad: Visual presentation rapidly loses its appeal. Irritating music. Control is erratic and often frustrating. Bland, generic goals. Fun factor replaced by irritation. Less of a game, more of a hardware promotional vehicle.
The Ugly: “I’m getting really sick of trying to maneuver this thing around. I don’t care if he dies.”
2/21/2012 Ben Dutka