It's often a nice change of pace to be the hunter and not the prey, and in Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack you're just that - a hunter that gobbles anything he can come across as he makes his way across 2D puzzle/platforming levels.
When I logged on to Playstation Store after I got my PS Vita Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack was one of the first games to catch my attention. I've always enjoyed physics heavy puzzle platformers, and this game reminded me of one of my all time favourite PSP games Loco Roco.
The game follows the typical mould of a puzzle platformer as it introduces more mechanics along the way, for the most part the pace is slow and deliberate, but at times your forced to rely on your reflexes to carry you through the levels as aggressive lasers threaten to zap you into a smoking pile of goo. Lots of familiar mechanics such as wall jumps, magnetism (either in order to stick to objects, and use magnetism to send you in the opposite direction) and rocket propulsion, are some of the things introduced along the way. There are sections where you use the touch screen to move objects in order to solve puzzles or use the same objects to send your blob flying across the screen. You will face human opposition in the shape of tanks and helicopters and naturally you can gobble these up once you're large enough.
All in all there are about 25 levels that take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete on your first attempt, and there are secret blobs to discover in each level as well as high scores and medals to chase. Add to this bonus levels called "tilt-a-blob" where you make use of the PS Vita's gyro to move around various labyrinths. These levels are enjoyable, but I'm happy that this means of controls was not used for the full game as it does not lend itself well to the precision based nature of the main levels.
There is some kind of back story, but I paid it little attention, and you really don't need any motivation in a game like this. It's all about the blob and his hunger to devour everything in sight.
Something that really made me smile and helped improve my overall impression of the game was the constant references and humour found in game. Whether it's billboards making fun of other indie titles or internet memes, or a situation where you shot your blob out of a cannon of sorts in order to knock down a tower of blocks than hides a green pig you need to devour in order to progress (I'm sure you get that reference). It's silly and something that should resonate well with most players, much like similar puns do in the Grand Theft Auto series.
The sound design and art style are also strong points. The visuals reminds me of the stuff you might catch on one of the "edgier" shows on Cartoon Network, and the shifty eye of the blob is as rich on expression as any one eye could be expected to be.
But even the brightest sun has its spot and the hungriest of blobs has its, well, spots? I found that there were some puzzles that rely a bit too much on quick use of the touch screen, and those were, at times, a bit iffy. In one particular section the spot that you used to turn a wheel with could go off screen, basically making it impossible to go anywhere with the blob and I was forced to commit suicide to try it again. I also had some issues with the sound and music, and it takes way too long to connect to PSN in order to upload your scores to the leaderboard. I also feel that the difficulty level was a bit uneven, and rather than ramping up towards the end I felt that the last couple of levels didn't provide any proper challenge at all, which was kind of a let down. There are some more difficult challenges in the latter half of the game, but overall the difficulty level is not that high.
If I had one wish for a sequel or downloadable content it would be for more alternative routes through the levels, even if the game at its core offers linear progression from puzzle to puzzle, much like Limbo to give an example.
Back on PSP, Tales from Space: Mutant Blob Attacks would likely have fallen just short of the content you'd expect from a full retail release. As a mid priced digital download on PS Vita it feels like great value, and I appreciate the restraint used in implementing the many input options the device offers. It's a great little indie piece and hopefully a good indication of where the digital scene on PS Vita is heading. Here's hoping for some additional levels to download in the near future.