A Blob and His Blob
Tales tells the tale of a charming amorphous blob who comes to Earth in search of… something. The narrative eschews both written and verbal storytelling (save for a sentence or two in the occasional newspaper headline), instead relying on a series of whimsical cutscenes of colorful characters emoting and gesticulating. The fact that newcomer DrinkBox studios is able to convey such a sharp wit under these constraints speaks volumes about their talents. The backgrounds of each stage is littered with subtle jokes (the various anti-blob posters that begin to appear everywhere are hilarious) and the Blob himself is adorable, settling on a gumdrop shape with expressive eyes. Thankfully the fine folks at DrinkBox were also able to craft an enjoyable romp, albeit a short and simple one.
The game is broken up into four levels each of which has four to six stages within it, although there is little to differentiate what delineates the levels other than a boss fight. The goal of each stage is simply to reach the end, avoiding falling prey to an array of untimely demises at the hands of the environment, or, late in the game, the military. At the start, you are quite tiny, barely the size of a real gumdrop, and your path forward is often blocked by an annoyingly placed cork or stopper. Being that you are a blob, thus lacking opposable thumbs or even appendages, you are at a disadvantage when trying to interact with the environment. What you do have is the power to absorb any object smaller than yourself, and doing so will cause Blob to get a little bigger. A conveniently placed display in the bottom corner lets you know how big you are and how big you need to get before you can remove the next stopper. Beside the power of absorption, your blob is also able to jump and shift his mass to plummet back down and smash fragile barriers, and as the game goes on, he(?) also learns to fire out absorbed items to press buttons and smash more stuff, gains a magnetic property that allows him to attract and repel to and from metal surfaces (which used carefully can let the blob float through the air), and finally he grasps the power to discharge certain electrical hubs and then charge others with the stored energy.
Clever puzzles and hidden paths force you to use all these powers regularly, and later in the game some rather fiendish bits will have you using them all at once. For the most part, the game is pretty easy, and while your blob is not all that resilient, liberally placed checkpoints and a lack of "lives" means the only penalty for death is the ten seconds it adds to your level completion time. While early on your foils are books and beakers too large for you to traverse, you''ll soon find yourself large enough to absorb people and vehicles, and though you will never quite reach Katamari levels of size, by the end of the game you have grown exponentially. Alas, the boss fights at the end of the levels are not very compelling, and the final boss was such a large spike in difficulty from the rest of the game that I gave up after 20 minutes of trying to defeat him. It wasn't that I couldn't grasp how to beat him, it was just that it required such a long series of precision moves that I invariably would slip up a couple times and the frail blob can't handle much strain before perishing.
You'll likely breeze through Tales From Space: About A Blob in just a few hours, but the game encourages repeat runs for better times, and there are 3 "buddy" blobs to hunt down and absorb in each stage. On top of that, there are liberal amounts of purple dots inexplicably strewn everywhere that take a few seconds off your total time every time you grab 3 of them. To get a "platinum" trophy on each level, you will need to beat the par time (I usually took triple that), find all three buddies, and grab every last purple dot. If you have a friend in your life, there is a local co-op mode so you can blob with a buddy, although it doesn't fundamentally add much to the game. If the two of you get too far apart, the one left behind explodes, but again, there is very little penalty for death.
So while you will probably feel like you have seen all the various parts of Tales From Space in other games before, DrinkBox has done a great job of combining them all into one pretty tight puzzle platforming package, and managed to inject more than a bit of cute humor into the mix. If I had to choose between spending $15 to go see the latest Bruckheimer blockbuster or grabbing this from the PSN, there is no question I'm getting more fun from the blob.