When indie games hit the console marketplace at heavily discounted prices, you almost have to adjust your expectations. Most of the time these games are created by a small team (or even one person) who wants nothing more than to create their own world for others to enjoy. This seems to be the case with Eekeemoo: Splinters of the Dark Shard, a budget action game that released in March. The Twitter trifecta of Cogg Games (developer), Goldborough Studios (character creation) and @Eekeemoo himself (main character) have such delightful tweet interactions that I can’t help but smile when I read them. Great moments aside, all games must be judged on their own merits, and in this case Eekeemoo is a little rough around the igloo.
The story of Eekeemoo is briefly told to us by some text dialog and then expanded upon after completing each level. Basically, Eekeemoo’s friends have been kidnapped by the evil Dark Shard and you must rescue them by completing each of the 4 corrupted splinter worlds. There is a unique boss fight after each level and once defeated you break the evil spell cast upon them. Once you have rescued a friend you can then switch to them in a level and use their specific abilities to progress. For example, your friend YumYum has a giant club that can destroy large objects, another friend can use their staff to create walking paths. Rescuing everyone and saving the world from evil is all in a day’s work for Eekeemoo, literally.
I say this because Eekeemoo is not a very long game, it should average most players between 2 and 5 hours to complete and earn all achievements. I give Cogg Games a lot of credit for doing what I always beg developers to do, combine a low price with an easy achievement list. Sadly, that is where Eekeemoo has its largest appeal, since everything else ranges from adequate to just plain bad. The game also leaves a lot of figuring out to the player, which is an odd choice given the appeal to younger gamers. Fun fact: Eekeemoo was delayed because of a ratings revisal that lowered it from Teen to E10, giving younger gamers more opportunities to play.
Graphically, Eekeemoo has a cartoon style that, while colorful, appears mostly monochromatic. You might find levels dominated by purple or gray “fog”, limiting the draw distance and making for a more enclosed feeling. Every character that is killed erupts in a satisfying poof of purple smoke, but sadly the poor hit detection made me question if I was even pushing the correct buttons. You can hold down RT and Eekeemoo with continuously slash with dual swords, but there is very little feedback making those strikes feel like they connected. The combat ultimately turns into holding RT in a cluster of baddies until they all die. If you die you can play as one of the other characters, essentially giving you up to four lives. If everyone dies you will respawn at a nearby checkpoint, you aren’t punished much at all for being careless. The music in Eekeemoo is standard, nothing that great or memorable. The presentation of story and characters would have greatly benefitted from cutscenes or even storyboard sequences.
I had the most trouble simply figuring out what to do, even in the first level. When you begin you will quickly notice your path blocked by spiked vines, in another area you face off with a revolving laser-shooting totem. All totems have an obvious button on them, but it must be struck so precisely that after a few tries I gave up and couldn’t figure out what to do next. It wasn’t until I confided in another reviewer when I discovered I was on the right track before. I again found myself bewildered in a boss fight where I had to strike two separate things to cause damage. For a game that is trying to appeal to a younger audience I was expecting much more hand holding, at least in the beginning.
If you are an achievement hunter who is always looking to boost your score, then Eekeemoo is a must buy. I am a big fan of the unique characters and I would love to see another game in this series with a focus on polished combat and presentation. As an action game and platformer, Eekeemoo leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, the experience doesn’t overstay its welcome and its laid the groundwork to build upon (hopefully) for future installments.