Review: A Virus Named Tom – Destroying the Future is Catchy, Indeed!

a virus named tom - multiplayer
Review: A Virus Named Tom – Destroying the Future is Catchy, Indeed!

Platforms: Steam

Game Name: A Virus Named Tom

Publisher: Misfits Attic

Developer: Misfits Attic

Genre: Puzzle

Release Date: Spring 2012

Developer Summary

A perfect place. A city without traffic. A dog that doesn’t poop. All products of the brilliant mind of Dr. X, but hell hath no fury like a mad scientist fired by a giant corporation. In this unique action-puzzler you take control of TOM, a virus created for one purpose: revenge.

Hack your way through brain scrambling puzzles while maneuvering through a thumb cramping maze of enemies. Team up through over 50 cooperative levels in what MMGN is calling “The most addictive co-op game we’ve played since Portal 2.” And if the over 100 levels aren’t enough, you and your friends can destroy each other again and again in battle mode to determine just who is the supreme virus.

What We Think

Combining aspects of various games in the puzzle genre while applying a delightfully engaging coat of paint, A Virus Named Tom heralds a new future for plumber games.

Don’t let the screen wrap fool ya…

Jetsons Jettisoned

Vengeance shall be yours! It seems that the altruistic societal advances created by Dr. X aren’t exactly bottom-line-friendly, and he’s been ousted, forcibly. Not known for his social graces, Dr. X decides that the only appropriate course of action is to bring civilization down from the inside. Enter Tom, the unfortunately named virus tasked with infiltrating and destroying the electronic systems upon which the world of tomorrow has come to depend.

Sasser? I Barely Even Know ‘er

Gamers familiar with the Plumber sub-genre of puzzle games (and no, we don’t mean Mario) will be familiar with the primary mechanics used to control the action. Simply put, each stage is a network of connections within a part of a machine that need to be redirected in order for Tom to effectively spread his digital pestilence. Tom is restricted to moving along the lines that make up a grid, and by “grabbing” two sides in passing, can rotate a tile by 90 degrees. A stage is complete once all pipelines are lit up and glowing with viral goodness.

Omegatech clues in quickly, though, and later stages will incorporate various forms of determent. Anti-viral drones are released to traverse the circuitry corridors, and contact with these will drain some of Tom’s strength, and force him to a neutral corner. Later still, encryption is introduced, blanking all tiles out until they are connected with the main infection node.

The sudden introduction of upgrades to Omegatech’s security roadblocks steps up the difficulty considerably, and some larger stages can prove to be extremely frustrating. Fortunately, a handful of “skip” tokens can be obtained. These allow the player to move on to the next stage at the cost of a token. Return to the skipped stage and successfully complete it, and the skip token is replenished.

Self-walkers of the world, unite!

The Four Toms

Tired of tackling a one-man assault on the suits? Bring in up to three more friends, and suddenly bringing down the future becomes a party. Work to clear levels as quickly as possible by dividing up the screen, or quickly complete your own section (as some levels will install force fields, limiting your ability to roam).

If the quest for the greater good isn’t your bag, take on combat mode, and see who among up to four players is the most infectious! Think Qix, only with four-player multiplayer: players must connect as many squares as they can to their own power source before time runs out. Here is where AVNT introduces Bomberman Live gameplay elements that really up the fun-factor with the action getting fast, ferocious, and more intricate.

a virus named tom - multiplayer

Place glitch bombs to unleash shrapnel, hopefully taking out a few contestants in the process. Even claimed squares in the grid are opened up once a character is destroyed. The virus with the greatest number of squares when time runs out is declared the winner, and a hilarious host of titles are bestowed upon all players depending on how they played.

Regrettably, all forms of multiplayer are strictly a local affair. There are no dedicated servers, nor is there any way to host a game, other than to have three other folks sitting around your PC. The developers, however, have expressed interest in pursuing a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a full online multiplayer mode at the urging of its already sizeable fanbase.

Piping Hot

While AVNT may not introduce anything head-scratchingly novel, it successfully brings together several genres and outfits them all with a delightful new holographic body suit. The nicely rendered vintage Sci-Fi animation look is helped along by the fact that some of the people behind the game worked in the animation department at Dreamworks for the better part of a decade. and it follows that the video cutscenes between each new unlocked level are a treat. The soundtrack boasts a taut electro-glitch sound interspersed with 8-bit chiptunes touches and it fits perfectly with the game’s overall theme and design – it is available as a separate or packaged download via Steam or the official site, and it is a purchase worth considering on its own merits.

While the single player experience certainly does not lack in polish, the co-op features are the highlight of the game. Though the exclusion of online multiplayer may feel like an oversight, A Virus Named Tom makes for a highly entertaining puzzle game, rich in presentation value whether played solo, as a team, or to the death. For the solo or co-op game, the stylish vignettes will have players laughing out loud, and the puzzles are challenging enough to keep the puzzle hungry occupied. The four player action plays at a blistering pace that will keep players raging at one another until only one virus remains. All in all, A Virus Named Tom will easily meet the gaming needs of any Tom, Dick or Harry.

A Virus Named Tom is available through Steam

A Virus Named Tom – the Official Site

[xrr rating=”4/5″]