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Week in Mobile: Almightree rethinks ‘easy’ block-pushing games with ‘plantsportation’

Welcome to Week in Mobile, where the topic changes every week. Send feedback to @GameZoneOnline or @wita on Twitter.

For Chocoarts, Almightree is the marriage of the puzzle and action games it released before. Maybe you’ve heard of those: Keto Fantasy, Keto Adventure, or Flow the Cloud. Almightree is about a world that’s literally falling apart, and only the power of a special tree can save it.

The game, a 3D puzzle-platformer launching later this fall, draws inspiration from the famous The Legend of Zelda series. But save for the similar art style (and blond boy hero), the influence is minimal.

“The genre is pretty much different,” co-founder Mega Denditya, whose studio is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, told GameZone via email.

Almightree features 20 levels with different themes, though the only glimpses available so far show a forested area, which is indeed a little reminiscent of Zelda’s lush world. (I even saw creatures that resembled Dekus, which appear to be called Cocona Cannons, according to a labeled screenshot.) The construction is totally different: The route the player takes consists of blocks that shake, transform, or disappear. The terrain is like that of Ilomilo.

Players must avoid and overcome obstacles and reach the Almightree, says Denditya, which can reverse the damage done to the world as it’s restored.

“As the stages progress, we introduce features that will make the puzzle and action more interesting,” he says.

The main way players interact with the blocks before them is through “plantsportation,” the heart of gameplay and a mechanic that has undergone much experimentation throughout development. It’s a kind of magic that players can use to make or modify a path by teleporting plants. The biggest challenge was making it accessible enough, and Chocoarts went back to basic block movement at one point before finding a solution.

Almightree

Cocona Cannons and Dandelishocks are two types of plants in Almightree.

“After a few days, I remembered one teleportation technique [where] you have to make a marking first before you can teleport to that place — if you read Naruto, a popular Japanese manga, you will know what I mean,” said Denditya. “It's actually a simple concept, but after some playtesting, it was clear that this mechanic [was too tricky] to understand completely. It's because intuitively, if you want to teleport something, you take the stuff first and then decide, where do you want to teleport it? But now it's flipped. After some playtesting again, we realized that it's a perfect mechanic — not too simple, not too hard to understand, and tricky. That's the story behind plantsportation.”

The feature is crucial. Its creative design is what gives Almightree a sense of difficulty and separates it from other block-moving games, which can be too easy. “We've seen [that] in a lot of games,” said Denditya.

Story is another essential part of Almightree, but Denditya was tight-lipped about how or what we can expect beyond the basic premise. He did share one tidbit: The Almightree “is long gone; only her seedlings remain.”

Chocoarts and publisher Crescent Moon Games are submitting the title to Apple for iOS in the next month, followed by Google Play and Amazon.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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