Review: Offspring Fling!
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Offspring Fling is the most fun I’ve ever had throwing babies. That’s partially because I don’t get to throw babies very often, but also because it does what it does quite well. Every puzzle game needs to make the most of whatever portion of the genre it carves out and this title does just that, forcing you to push your understanding and mastery of its mechanics to their limits. What it lacks in scale it more than makes up in heart and polish, which are often in short supply on the platforming side.
I’m not sure what you play as in Offspring Fling, but whatever it is it’s adorable and has tons of tiny adorable babies. Some damn dinosaur thing comes through and scatters them though, so you’ve got to help your bunny-mama-thing round up her childrens. This happens over a hundred levels that are mostly single-screen puzzles but pack plenty of tricks and traps into that space. Along the way you’ll deal with deadly pits, switch blocks, monsters, and other hazards to complicate saving your little ones.
The main mechanic of the game is throwing your kids around, unsurprisingly. Pressing down next to one of your tiny offspring hefts them over your head, and pressing C pitches them in a straight line either right or left. You have to get them and yourself to the exit and the easiest way to do that is to chuck them through the door, but of course it’s never that simple. Holding a baby raises the height of your character, slows them down, and limits their jump, meaning that you have to strategize how you move them around and make the most of your throws. This is even more important in levels with three or four offspring to transport.
Very quickly you’ll start coming across levels where a simple obstruction like a one-block space or a slightly too-tall wall force you to come up with complex maneuvers to get past. They’re clever puzzles, ones that appear simple but build difficulty outward as you keep running into little snags in your plans. The puzzles that introduce new gimmicks like pits and switches do an excellent job of easing you into dealing with them as well, so the overall difficulty curve is quite smooth. Be aware that much of the challenge in Offspring Fling is based on timing and reflexes, though. Some puzzles will require you to outrun enemies or traps, or catch a baby in mid-flight to prevent its heart-wrenching demise.
With timing challenges come timers, and it’s here that Offspring Fling allows you to go as hard as you want. Beating a level at all earns you a flower, needed to unlock further sets of levels. But each level also has a target time that requires an optimized solution and earns you an additional gold flower. Early on these will come easily but soon start to get away from you, forcing some brain-wracking to earn. And then, if you’re a true offspring-flinger, you can go for the rainbow flowers which are only awarded for beating the level in the fastest time possible. These are absurdly hard to get on anything that isn’t a tutorial level and sometimes require far more clever and less obvious solutions to reach.
It’s all wound up in an adorably fluffy package with some Yoshi’s Island-style sketch graphics and pleasing sound design. Honestly between the sharp puzzles and charming aesthetic there’s not much holding it back, aside from the lack of story depth. Be warned, though, I wasn’t able to get it running on my Windows 10 system so you might have to pass it over if you’re fully upgraded. Aside from that it’s an easy sell to fans of puzzles, cute games, and throwing babies. And everyone likes at least ONE of those.