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A gem full of drill holes

  • Beregon
  • 01/03/2021 11:09 AM
Drill Guy is a game I couldn't finish, even though I really wanted to. At first glance, it seemed like a hidden gem that deserves to brought into the light for everyone to enjoy. And it is a potential gem, in a sense. It's one with substantial flaws that ruin it. Atleast they did so for me.


The game is a platformer that takes place in some underground world populated by cute miniature people, most of whom appear to be miners. There are some creatures called Shadows that manifest only in dark areas and are a huge threat. One day, the generators powering all the lights that keep the Shadows out of the underground town are damaged by some villain with a comedic german accent, so it's up to you to save all the miners, repair all of the generators and presumably defeat the dastardly villain.


Drill Guy is a platformer with a large hub level connecting all the various stages. The jumping and movement works just like your average platformer, with pixel movement and traditional jumping mechanics. The height of your jump depends on how long you hold the Jump key. In addition to this, you have a drill you can use to destroy rocks and damage certain enemies. Using the drill expends energy, which is replenished via green crystals scattered all around the maps. Speaking of enemies, there are a few types, with the slow moving shadows being the first ones you encounter and others being things like stationary carnivorous plants. Your character dies instantly upon touching them, so you really need to watch out for them. There's also of course traditional platformer hazards like lava pools and bottomless pits.

One major feature is that you can't save on your own. Instead, the game autosaves after each map transition. This leads to much frustration in certain sections, as the individual stage maps frequently feel a bit too long than they should be. Though maybe this is just because the early stage has you talk to an NPC at the start to get an item and if you die, you need to talk with them all over again, which is kind of annoying.

There's also variation in levels, including things like an underwater stage that doesn't really break the mold when it comes to underwater stages in platforming, meaning that it's not very enjoyable.


The game uses 100% custom charming pixel art with loads of style and alright music (even though the "danger" theme gets pretty grating after a while). There's nothing substantial to criticize here, only a few minor things that would've been better if they were animated (like a valve opening). This is definitely the best thing about this game.


So, from all of this, it sounds like a potentially good platformer game. So, why didn't I finish it? Well, for one, the game has a large hub area that connects all the levels. It's a large underground city with staircases, buildings you can jump on, elevators etc. It's also a giant maze, in the sense that you will have only a vague idea where exactly you are going, but also how exactly you are supposed to get there. This isn't helped by that fact that atleast early on, the area also has enemies, meaning you can misjudge a jump, fall down and right into the path of a patrolling Shadow. I think they get removed later, but they made the first visit very painful. Not that it gets any better afterwards. You will spend a lot of time just wandering aimlessly, trying to jump onto buildings or staircases, only to land "juuuuust" below the platform, only to finally land one jump after you manage to perform a near pixel perfect jump. This makes you wonder if this really was an intended path or if you skipped ahead, though the lack of any alternatives makes it seem like the intended one. The city buildings are the worst, having their top "platform" part just high enough that you will keep failing your jumps repeatedly. In short, while I normally really like hub levels, this isn't a very well implemented one. The game would most likely be significantly improved if the hub level were just removed outright.

I have already mentioned the map transition saving frustrations earlier in the review, so what made me finally give up? Well, there's that one underwater level. You need to locate valves underwater that activate pipes that will allow you to replenish oxygen. So, you swim in a large underwater maze, have to locate a valve to activate a pipe, then you have to locate the pipe the valve activated to finally replenish the oxygen. Which sounds overly complex for you are running out of oxygen the whole time and most of all, the game doesn't explain it very well. After trying repeatedly to get through this repeatedly, I finally gave up. If I were enjoying the general gameplay better, I would've probably figured it out eventually, but the terrible hub level took its toll on me.

Would I recommend Drill Guy to anyone? Yes, if you are a fan of platformers and don't get frustrated easily, give it a try, maybe you'll like it much more than I did and the issues I've pointed out won't bother you. I hoped that I could give this a much higher score, but in the end, the flaws drag it down way too much. Still, there's a lot of good in this game. Pretty much everything but the gameplay and some of the early level design is superb. So it definitely deserves atleast a quick try if nothing else.


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OrudoPatto, kisama!
Thank you for the review, Beregon, I really liked it! :)

Finally even lil Drill Guy gets a review! *pats Drill Guy*

I *hate* how some things in this game turned out to be, but we did the best that we could in the two weeks we had to finish it. It's a shame, alas.

Thank you again!
Thank you for the review, Beregon, I really liked it! :)

Finally even lil Drill Guy gets a review! *pats Drill Guy*

I *hate* how some things in this game turned out to be, but we did the best that we could in the two weeks we had to finish it. It's a shame, alas.

Thank you again!

No problem! Believe me, I know how you feel at that front, I also had things in games that turned out a lot worse than I originally intended due to time limits. Though I think there's a great game buried underneath it all, you just need patience to get through the bad.
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