Day 217: Terwilliger

Posted: 2011/06/14 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #217, and today’s game is “Terwilliger”.

I’ve seen Terwilliger compared to a variety of games, but none of them (particulary the Pac Man comparison) does it any justice. It’s an evolving puzzle/action game combo with a progressive difficulty level so broad, that even the developers haven’t beat the game on the hardest level (170 or so, I certainly haven’t made it there yet either!). It’s a quirky beast that defies easy description, and that alone makes it worth 80 Microsoft Points.

First, from the developer (domric):

“Terwilliger is the neighborhood mouse catcher. He catches mice and shows the neighbors his good deeds. Some people in the neighborhood appreciate his efforts… but some do not! How many mice can you help Terwilliger catch?”

The graphics of this game are serviceable, but the gameplay is the real focus rather than the eye candy. You play the role of the neighbourhood cat eradicating mice. Getting rid of the mice increases the appeal of the neighbourhood, which brings in new people to the neighbourhood. No good deed goes unpunished though, as more neighbours means fewer empty lots which increasingly restricts your movements. Some of those new people in the neighbourhood bring their dogs with them, which forces you to avoid dogs while seeking out the mice. Once you catch enough mice you can move on to the next part of town. That’s the gameplay in a nutshell, though the game throws other wrinkles at you.

Existing houses in the neighbourhood have to be avoided, but new neighbours can be visited, either providing you with milk (which, if you collect enough), earns you an extra life) or unleashing dogs which must be avoided for the rest of the level. While the bulk of the game is simultaneously a collect-’em-up and an avoid-’em-up, the game does mix it up with power-ups. These are sometimes provided by new neighbours, which makes the risk/reward system of visiting the new neighbours really worthwhile (especially on the higher skill levels). Power-ups include things like “Hide” (to hide from dogs), “Swipe” (to defend yourself from the dogs), “Catch” (which is a screen-clear power-up, catching all on screen mice simultaneously), and more.

Pac Man did innovate in being both a collect-’em-up and an avoid-’em-up, but it mostly alternated between the two. Terwilliger is interesting because it’s almost always both at the same time, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t name any other game quite like it, and I was very pleased to add it to my collection today.

Click here to download “Terwilliger”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.



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