There are a few games that fall in the category of random and weird that I enjoy, and then there are those who share the same genre yet are confusing and just too crazy. Chester falls somewhere in between the two for me. Chester is a side scrolling shooter similar to games like “Jazz the Jackrabbit” or “Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure” due to its plethora of random creatures and scenery. There really is no adventure or story to Chester, you simply navigate your way through 2D mazes while avoiding spiked walls and enemies. Admittedly, the game itself is very creative and ambitious to implement a multiple scenario system. At any point during gameplay the player can choose between seven different ‘scenes’ and 12 different characters. Each character can be bought on the main screen using stamps collected through each level. Upon purchase, the character is randomly assigned one of 3 different elements; water, grass or fire. Each of these are in turn effective against each other in a cyclic fashion, water beats fire, fire beats grass, and grass beats water. At any time, these elements can be rerolled on the main screen but is completely random. In the levels, the player can then switch between characters to fend off enemies of the same elemental types. The scene system can be changed during gameplay too and implements a new art style of the background for each scene. This can be beneficial for the player as some scenes make collectable items or enemies stand out. In addition, the scenes offer various benefits such as increased drop rate of items, lower gravity, and faster movement and so on. The difficulty system is rather accurate and well defined. Easy mode grants 1-2 hits before an enemy is defeated and the player takes minimal damage. The hardest difficulty can be frustrating as almost everything destroys you instantly. There is a reward system based off how many levels you complete on which difficulty which provides a great incentive for at least attempting higher difficulties. Every level also has three hidden collectable items: frosting, a spork, and a ship part. While random, the complete collection of each item grants awesome bonuses.
My main frustration with Chester stemmed from a few complications in gameplay. Mainly that the graphics and visual combinations often put a strain on my eyes. I think the hand drawn backgrounds, characters and enemies are brilliantly creative, but they are rough around the edges. Many glitch into the ground or can appear randomly which is devastating if you’re playing on the “D:” difficulty. The wall jump system is fun but can be frustrating as it’s not always responsive, especially in delicate situations. Void of any plot, the game itself almost feels like a bad trip. The music is surprisingly fitting, a soothing array of acoustic, synthetic, and electric, but is offset by the voiced creature and character grunts and growls. Starting a level over, you are greeted with a five second disgruntled gurgle of your character which becomes rather annoying eventually. Every playable character has a different projectile and special attack which can be combined by switching to other characters providing outrageous results ranging from rainbow explosions to slowed time to lobbing bowling balls. Generally, I believe this game has a very creative system with original art and mechanics but felt as if production was rushed. The control layout is odd and have XBOX assignments, but these can be changed if you exit the game and open a separate file. Chester has great promise, but I feel it needs just a little refining.
You can demo or purchase the game on Desura. The game is also available from the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace, which also has a demo. Also, check out the official website of Brilliant Blue-G (if you fancy it!).
GAME NAME: Chester
DEVELOPER(S): Brilliant Blue-G
PLATFORM(S): PC, Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): 31st August, 2011