Here’s another game that was on display at the Aussie Indie Pavilion at PAX and one that I’ve played way too much while sitting on the tram, train or toilet. Cargo Chaos is a 2D, Action-Puzzler, phone game which uses realistic gravity, the first game produced by the 2-man team, Considerable Content.
Cargo Chaos, originally named Fail Freighter (a change for the better since ‘Fail Freighter’ sounds like the name of a meme), is the story of the owner of a shipping company whose workers go on strike. The owner then quickly learns the power of telekinesis so that he himself can load on the cargo and then keep it on the ship as it sails across the ocean to the next port. This game is like playing Tetris on a see-saw.
The game has two distinct parts to it. The first involves loading the cargo onto the ship, and this is where Tetris comes into it. You have to load all the cargo and pack it all on nice and tight. There’s different sized rectangular blocks, crosses, L-shapes, T-shapes, triangles, circles and even a weird plank with a diamond in the middle. None of them quite fit together perfectly which is incredible irritating, especially if you have OCD. But it’s not bad as far as game-play goes, because then comes the second part of the game, the chaos.
When you’ve loaded the cargo on, you embark on your ocean voyage. You, as the business-owner/captain, have decided to forgo any kind of way of keeping the cargo on through mundane means, and so it is up to you keep the cargo on using telekinesis as your travel across waves, through storms and plough into kraken. Depending on how much cargo you get to port and how well you were able to keep it on during the voyage, you get a number of bells out of five. You can reply the level later to try to get the maximum number (this is a common theme in mobiles game – looking at you Angry Birds – but once again isn’t a bad thing since it’s automatically enabling re-playability).
Then there are the special blocks. The animal boxes jump around, the firework and explosive boxes go off when hit too hard, frozen blocks with squids inside slide around the deck. There’s also a nuclear bomb—probably produced in the early 1940s—that sometimes appears on your manifest. In fact, I’m starting to get an idea of why all his workers went on strike. Cutting costs on cargo storage methods, dangerous cargo, travelling monster-infested seas… it’s probably a good thing you measure your success with a ‘bell rating’ and not profits.
The levels of this game scale really well as they introduce new elements gradually and with enough practice and experience (as I eventually found out), it gets easier and easier to achieve 5 bells on all the levels. After playing Candy Crush which will always have several easy levels, followed by an incredible hard level that will stump your for weeks. and then back to the easy levels, having a consistent increase in difficulty is a release. Though the bell system is no more than a way of measuring your own skill since you just need a minimum score to pass the level. It would be nice to see a use for these bells such as a perk purchasing system.
With all that in mind, Cargo Chaos is very simple in game-play which is what I often want from a phone game. It is nice to see a new and unique gravity-based physics game and most important of all, this game is a fun use of touch-screen mechanics. You can only use a single finger at a time to keep on the cargo which means your finger is darting around the screen frantically trying to keep everything together. Many times I found myself swearing as my cargo exploded off deck or I was ready to crush my phone as the tentacles of the kraken rose up from the depths to assault my ship.