F.M.L. (No really, F.M.L. Forever.)
A puzzle game with a sense of humour, set aboard the world’s most underprepared airline. Help flight attendant Rhys as he wrangles over-demanding VIP passengers, escaped anxiety pets and his own luckless love life. Can you be his wingman? Work with your friends to solve puzzles, crack codes and avert death by discount airline.
Just a few days before Christmas we had the joy of playing Fast Familiar’s first game, National Elf Service. While it wasn’t the typical sort of game we go for, everything about it just worked, and we lost ourselves in the story and the puzzles for well over an hour. It was delightfully perfect for getting us in the holiday spirit. So of course, when we heard that Bad Altitude was in the works, we were eagerly waiting for the right moment to see what Fast Familiar had come up with next.
Unfortunately, finding that moment was somewhat delayed by personal commitments, and after a rather terrible and stressful month (I do not recommend moving; it is the worst), we decided a holiday was in order. Of course, since we can’t really go anywhere, an immersive and light-hearted bit of fun, taking place at roughly 30,000 feet, seemed like the perfect compromise. And thanks to Bad Altitude, and Rhys, our beleaguered flight attendant, that’s exactly what we got; for it is true – “Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them push the drinks trolley.”
Bad Altitude is less of an escape game and more of an interactive audio adventure, with puzzles. And when I say interactive, I truly do mean interactive, with opportunities for the team to really immerse themselves in the story, and the choices you make will impact what happens next. When we finished, I almost wished we could replay the game simply so we could see what might have happened had we made different choices. I will say, if you’re not a fan of following a narrative, this may not be the game for you, but if you’re willing to give it a go, it’s well worth an hour or two of your time if only for the jokes. And goats.
Gord and I say it quite a lot, and as much as I am loath to say it again, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Bad Altitude is just how “slick” it is. The browser-based game interface is user friendly, and pretty to look at, and then there’s the production quality of the videos, audio, and artwork. It’s clear to me that Fast Familiar have a load of very talented people on board for their projects and they have taken what was introduced in National Elf Service (and already very good) and built upon it to make the game an even smoother experience, with an integrated chat, answer portal, and hint/skip buttons.
Bad Altitude itself is quite linear – other than a few “choose your own adventure” moments, there is no way to deviate from the set path. Despite this, however, there were still opportunities within the puzzles for our team to investigate different things, or to work as a team to solve Rhys’ next dilemma. But perhaps the most amazing thing was just how much more immersive Bad Altitude managed to be than its predecessor. Not only is the story hilarious, engrossing, and occasionally adrenaline-fuelled, the game pulls on elements of an Alternate Reality Game, sending us out into the world to find a solution to assist Rhys in his duties, or perhaps with finding love.
Not only is Bad Altitude immersive, but it is also inclusive, and I find myself, once again, congratulating Fast Familiar on their efforts to ensure their games resonate with everyone, with an incredibly diverse cast of characters, from their accents, their look, and of course, their backgrounds. This was something that impressed me with their first game, and I would love to see more game designers take note and follow suit.
It’s worth noting that while National Elf Service was geared towards children and families, Bad Altitude really isn’t. Although the game still has the distinctly cartoony feel introduced by its predecessor and doesn’t contain any foul language or strictly “adult” content, the humour and storyline are definitely aimed at an older crowd (think 13+). And that’s without even mentioning that some of the puzzles are very close to being something I would deem to be “difficult.”
While puzzles are not the main focus of Bad Altitude, there are still plenty of them to keep the puzzle fiends among us happy, with logic problems aplenty, a few maths puzzles (one of which was an absolute beast), information analysis, observing the details, not to mention codes and cyphers. In terms of difficulty, they are a mixed bag. Of course, that’s always subjective, and others may not feel this way, but there were some tasks that were, shall we say, a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, they were fair and well signposted, but many were multi-layered, and often time-consuming, with one or two “easy wins” scattered throughout the game.
On the plus side, the variety of puzzle types that you come across ensures that there’s almost guaranteed to be something that will click with someone within a team. And hey, if that’s not the case, well, then that’s what clues are for.
To us, the puzzles were logical and fair, which meant that we never needed to use the clue system, but never fear, there is one in place if you really need it. It’s easily spotted within the interface, and will offer nudges to get you back on track. You even have the option to entirely skip a puzzle, whether that’s because you just aren’t feeling it, or because you’re only invested in the storyline – it’s your game after all!
This system is a change from the cheat sheet that was available for National Elf Service, and feels like someone really took the time to think about how to ensure that Bad Altitude remained as immersive as possible, rather than forcing players that were stuck to leave the game world to check a different document for an answer.
Bad Altitude is not a game to rush through (especially since you can’t, really). It is instead one to sit back and just enjoy the ride, as you tackle your first day on the job with A.I. Airlines.
- PC or Tablet running Chrome or Firefox
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 1hr 04mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review