Sometimes you see a game and can’t help but wonder how in the world they came up with its name. Elite Dangerous. What’s that, a sniper game? Arma. Your guess is as good as mine. Throw Anything. Tantrums? A hissy fit? Those can be thrown… but those don’t seem game-ish.
Well, I know now how Throw Anything came to get its somewhat curious name. It started easily enough with my preferred style of VR game menu, which is to say the tried and true window with buttons to push as opposed to the gimmicky and often opaque method of having to pick up statuettes or a hammer or whatever. My choices were simple: Easy, Medium, and Hard. Being the sort that typically opts to follow the path of no resistance, or the path of least resistance if the no resistance path is not an option, I chose Easy. I’ll tell you right now: I wish there was one more level below Easy. It could be labeled “Age 50+” or something akin to that. Had that choice existed, I might, might have gotten past level 2.
The funny thing is, at first glance this game appears to be insultingly simple. You start in the bedroom of a young boy. It’s a nicely equipped room with computers, TVs, game consoles, books, and all kinds of toys and pieces of sporting equipment. There’s a brief tutorial that makes clear what is already abundantly obvious: you have to use your controllers to grab pieces of the stuff in the room, turn around to face the window where you will learn that 1) you’re fairly high up in the building, and 2) that there are pudgy zombies slowly scaling the exterior of the building, and 3) you really ought throw something at them. At this point I found that no further instruction was required - it was pretty obvious that you and/or Kenneth were the targets of interest for the climbing dead and ignoring that was not going to end well for either of us.
It seemed easy at first. It reminded me, in fact, of why I never watched the Walking Dead. I mean, where’s the challenge in evading folks that walk slower than a baby crawls? It’s ludicrous on the face of it!
I am rethinking that now. You know, now that I’ve been killed a few times myself. Sure, they’re slow. They’re slow, but they’re multitudinous, they’re irate, and they’re very, very persistent. They. Just. Kept. Coming. Before long I was totally flustered and making a complete mess of what had seemed so easy before, which is the picking up and throwing of objects. Kenneth was a constant distraction too, wailing “No!” every time I picked up one of his prized possessions with the intent of tossing it at a mutated dumpling. There was another distraction in the form of walking drone ringing the doorbell and delivering boxes that looked eerily like DHL deliveries. He was easier to ignore, but as I found out later he was actually pretty important to me. Not in the way that Kenneth became important to me - that’s another story entirely.
Kenneth became useful to me almost by accident. No wait. That’s not true. The discovery of Kenneth’s utility came about because he was so, so, SO irritating! I (not accidentally) discovered that I could get him out of my way and solve a handful of problems at the same time simply by picking him up and tossing him out the window. Tossing Kenneth soon became my favorite hobby. He just kept coming back for more and more, albeit wearing a new bandage or in a cast each time. This went on right up until the time Kenneth returned as Kenneth the Zombie. I offered no apology, nor was he in the mood to accept one. Thus endeth round 1.
I really don’t think you are intended to get through the levels on the first try - I learned something new from every failure and eventually learned some strategies for being able to finish the first level. Throwing Kenneth out the window in a sheer panic also taught me something: in that moment of time, I would have thrown anything out that window to knock back those creepy climbers. Throw. Anything. Get it?
The second level further proved my point. I still haven’t gotten through it, although I have gotten to the Boss battle a number of times. The point level 2 proved is that a level will get easier upon multiple attempts because you learn things each time you play it. You learn to open the boxes to see what the DHL guy brought for you. You will learn that the lull at the beginning of a level is best used preparing for the impending onslaught. You will solve mini-puzzles that would be trivial in a room escape game but are much harder when the undead are crawling up your back. And if you are luckier than me, you will learn how to keep your cool under pressure. You might even learn what level 3 looks like. I will say this: the difficulty ramps up very quickly!
The game mechanics are straightforward. This is not a room scale game; you can play at your desk or stand in a fixed spot, but you will have to be able to turn around 180 degrees. There’s no mobility to deal with, but not everything in the room is within your reach. This is handled in the now common VR way of pointing at what you want and summoning it to your hand. There’s no weight limit to what you can lift in this game, but the weight of objects hitting the zombies does matter. If you’re down to DVD cases as weapons, you had better have a lot and you had better be fast! I found it helpful to try to hold onto the really heavy stuff as long as possible.
The art style is cartoonish, sort of a Minion-style zombie, if you will. Items in the room are big and bold, as is pretty much a requirement in current VR equipment. Most of the bigger items are breakable, but because you can’t reach most of them, the breaking of them is really just another welcome excuse to throw things.
It didn’t matter much in level 1, but in level 2 it didn’t take long to run out of things that fall conveniently to hand. I decided that there was no other way of surviving the final charge than to break as much as I could in the early lull, in addition to using a piece of office equipment to create a dozen instances of my favorite weapon.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure I really want to see what level 3 is like! I’m sure the stress level would be through the roof; at its heart, Throw Anything is a wave attack style game. I find those to be very stressful. Perhaps that is a more honest reason for me not watching the Walking Dead. It presents itself in a relaxing, almost simple style of art and game play, but it is anything but. I was surprised at how challenging it could become, and I was also surprised to see a few puzzle elements thrown in. Even the range of weaponry was a pleasant surprise - baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, a loaded pistol, golf clubs - there was no end to the various ways to throw anything.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been fascinated with video games and computers for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat to get dragged to the mall with my parents because I'd get to play for a few minutes on the Atari 2600. I partially blame Asteroids, the crack cocaine of arcade games, for my low GPA in college which eventually led me to temporarily ditch academics and join the USAF to "see the world." The rest of the blame goes to my passion for all things aviation, and the opportunity to work on work on the truly awesome SR-71 Blackbird sealed the deal.
My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977 when they first came out. At that time you had to order them through a Radio Shack store - Tandy didn't think they'd sell enough to justify stocking them in the retail stores. My favorite game then was the SubLogic Flight Simulator, which was the great Grandaddy of the Microsoft flight sims.
While I was in the military, I bought a Commodore 64. From there I moved on up through the PC line, always buying just enough machine to support the latest version of the flight sims. I never really paid much attention to consoles until the Dreamcast came out. I now have an Xbox for my console games, and a 1ghz Celeron with a GeForce4 for graphics. Being married and having a very expensive toy (my airplane) means I don't get to spend a lot of money on the lastest/greatest PC and console hardware.
My interests these days are primarily auto racing and flying sims on the PC. I'm too old and slow to do well at the FPS twitchers or fighting games, but I do enjoy online Rainbow 6 or the like now and then, although I had to give up Americas Army due to my complete inability to discern friend from foe. I have the Xbox mostly to play games with my daughter and for the sports games.