You know those awful sections in platformer games where you have to swing from pole to pole or vine to vine where the timing has to be absolutely perfect and when you die, you have to start at the beginning of the painful pathway? Epic Eric is a game built entirely around that one section. And it is excruciating. The saddest part is that the game has all the trappings of a successful, casual mobile game. It has a simple art style, a one button game mechanic, and the tried-and-true “collect these items and reach the finish line to complete the level” gameplay. It feels like it wants to be Angry Birds. But it is simply not fun.
It’s the bizarre lovechild of a drunken threesome between Super Mario, Angry Birds, and Donkey Kong Country. The excuse for a plot is that you are a knight and your princess is stolen by a villain in a flying pirate ship (sound familiar?). You, Epic Eric, have to swing between cogs, for some reason without touching the ground, until you collect all the stars (why stars? Beats me) and reach the princess at the end of the level. There’s no real incentive to collect the stars either. Collecting stars unlocks the next world, but since there are so few worlds and the star cost is so low, I never had to go back to collect more.
You can also play as “Erica,” the princess (why is she named so similarly to her knight? That’s a little weird), but it’s just a skin change – the levels stay the same. You swing from cogs by touching the screen. That’s it. That’s the whole game. It adds one or two different types of cogs and occasionally a bouncy surface as the game progresses, but it is woefully simple.
Levels are either minute-long affairs or twenty-minute ordeals of punishing precision. There is no gradual build of difficulty. The levels are either easy because the path is obvious and there is wiggle-room for error, or the levels are hard because the pathway is confusing and if you touch your screen and jump from your spinning cog one second too early or one second too late, you are dashed to the ground and have to start over.
To make matters worse, there are only five worlds consisting of fifteen tiny levels each. Compare that to the truly massive permutations of Angry Birds levels, and Epic Eric just doesn’t hold up to the competition.
It’s not that Epic Eric is a miserable game. When it isn’t torturing you, it has moments that a generous person might describe as “fun.” But it’s the same lazy grab for an easy and addictive game that we see time and again in mobile gaming. There’s no heart in it at all.
Truly, this game should not have been made. There might be a few good ideas strewn about the game, but not enough to justify its existence. The only value I got out of it was distracting myself while on the toilet when my Internet went out for an hour.
Like a wet sponge.
Epic Eric is a generic one-button platformer that tries its best to be no different from the rest. With feet planted firmly in mediocrity, it still manages to fall on its face.