Bacteria (PC) Review

By Athanasios 25.04.2016

Review for Bacteria on PC

Oh, Sometimes You… why you so artsy? This developer has made a few "video games" (imagine the quotes as big as Texas), all extremely cheap, and all… unique. Remember Retention? It was supposed to be a trip into the shattered memories of a traumatised individual. The reality? It was a nice photo album. Bacteria follows the same route: it's supposed to be a relaxing puzzler based on the Game of Life, the famous creation of British mathematician John Horton Conway. The truth? It's another futile attempt at innovation.

Those not aware of Conway's Game of Life (also known as just 'Life')… stop right now! Open a new browser tab, go to Wikipedia, and read all about it - it's wonderful, and it's a perfect example of how complexity might come about from a few simple rules. In essence, it's just a simple cellular automaton; a finite (and sometimes infinite), two-dimensional grid, where the "player" applies only one input in the form of single dots (or cells), and then sets things in motion.

Over time, these dots will "evolve" into different shapes, become unstable (get locked in an endless loop), or disappear altogether. The rules behind it all? #1: dots with no neighbouring dots disappear; #2: dots with fewer than two neighbours disappear; #3: dots with more than three neighbours disappear; #4: any dot with two or three neighbours stays "alive"; and, finally, a dead cell surrounded by three dots becomes a live cell.

Now, how can that turn into a video game? To put it simply, it can't - at least not in the way Sometimes You thinks it should. Bacteria lets gamers observe what the Game of Life is, by giving them the tools to create an initial input of dots, and then watch the dots coming to life. This, however, is just the simulation mode; the sandbox portion of this title, with two separate modes being the actual game.

Screenshot for Bacteria on PC

The objective in both modes is to make certain cells disappear; cells that are stuck in endless motion in the "Colour" mode, and every single living cell in the - much harder - "Monochrome" mode. In order to do so, cell patterns can be created in a small section of the top-left corner, which will, hopefully, move towards the dots that must die, and, hopefully (again), destroy them.

The thing is that, while simple in concept, that's insanely hard to do. Why? For starters it requires a lot of experimentation to find out which patterns do what, since some will instantly disappear, while others will litter the grid with tons of unnecessary dots. To counteract this problem, the UI provides three basic "Glider" patterns; groups of dots that evolve horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, in order to reach distant cell formations.

The second problem is the fact that it's hard to "aim," since the grid has no lines to help one understand where a glider will end up. The worst thing, though, is none other than the fact that this doesn't follow the standard logic of puzzles, because there's actually no way to think things over. To put it bluntly: it's more about luck than skill.

A nice analogy of what Bacteria asks would be this: throw a bunch of organic molecules on a plate, wait a while, and hope that a Tyrannosaurus Rex will come out of it. In other words: this is not a "relaxing puzzle game" as the developer says, but a frustrating game of chance based on Conway's Game of Life - in fact, the only relaxing thing here is piano theme that bops along the "gameplay."

Screenshot for Bacteria on PC

Cubed3 Rating

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

The indie community has frequently favoured original and innovative concepts over standard formulae, but there's another side to this world; the side with the heavy hipster-esque, artsy attitude, which creates video games the same way a post-modern-anti-conformist-whatever "sculptor" puts a glass of water on an Ikea shelve, and calls it "high art." Like so, Bacteria tries a lot to be an innovative puzzler, but the only good thing about it is the fact that it will introduce the Game of Life to more people.

Developer

Sometimes You

Publisher

Sometimes You

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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