It really seems like the Windows 8 phone just lumps a bunch of freemium games together and publishes them all closely together in one big spurt. I mean, Throne Together, Hungry Shark Evolution, and now Tentacles: Enter the Mind all came out in just the last few weeks alone, and this is following another burst of free-to-play experiences with Hexic, Snap Attack, and that trilogy of Microsoft-themed classics like Mahjong, Minesweeper, and Solitaire. Oh boy, my phone might be filling up a little too fast. There’s even a few other free games to download that I’ve held back on simply because I don’t want to overdo it, though clearly that is not a thought in Microsoft’s mind.
That said, so far, Tentacles: Enter the Mind from Microsoft’s very own Press Play studio seems like the most traditional videogame of all these freebie titles I’ve touched of late, even if there are still options to purchase digital money with real-life money. Thankfully, they really don’t get in the way of playing the game, which I’m a thousand times thankful for, since playing the game is a lot of fun and I don’t want anything coming between me and my fun. Perhaps the best missing element is any form of an energy system, which means I can keep stretching from one brain shop to another for as long as I like, or as long as I want to run my phone’s battery into the ground.
To begin, Tentacles: Enter the Mind features a fully 3D and colorful landscape that you can explore via your tentacle-laden monster called Lemmy by tapping all over the screen. Basically, each tap moves a tentacle, so if you quickly tap four times in a row, the monster will zip over to where you want…or you can stretch it out across a bunch of different spots and see how far it’ll go. The story goes that you’re inside the mind of the mad scientist Dr. Phluff, fighting off invading enemies in his subconscious. How do you do this, you ask, probably already knowing the answer based on this blog post’s title? Simple: you pluck their eyeballs out from their heads. You can also use special powers, like a AOE bomb that hits all nearby enemies, by swiping down on the screen. There seems to be 15 areas in total, but each area–or level of subconscious–is made up of multiple stages, which may or may not be randomly generated. I’m currently on one themed around kitty cats, meow.
As you travel from one stage to another and aren’t too busy ripping the eyes from your enemies–yes, I’m a big fan of that scene from Kill Bill: Vol. 2, how did you know?–you can also pick up gold coins, hammers, eggs, and revive tokens. In between each stage, you pause at a shop menu to purchase upgrades for your monster, including new tentacle effects, different eyeballs, and additional power skills. You use your gold coins on this, and so far, the amounts are not too crazy high that you immediately see the unnecessary need to purchase gold with real money. Everything will come in time, plus you can earn more gold from cracking colored eggs with the matching colored hammer, as well as completing side objectives, like ripping the eyeballs from X monsters in a row without taking any damage.
The feeling of moving Lemmy one tentacle at a time is actually quite satisfying. I mean, after all these years of watching octopus videos, and I finally sort of know how it feels. Throw in that plus dodging and attacking enemies simultaneously, which you also have to tap on, and your phone and your index finger are going to become quite close friends. The only parts I’m struggling with are having Lemmy move to a really specific point in the level; for instance, there’s a part inside a confined tube, where these rotating dividers block your way forward, save for a small hole in them that you have to dart through when the moment is right. If you don’t, you get electrocuted, which is usually a whole heart gone. I can’t get past it, but at least I get to keep the gold coins and eggs I find along the way.
I look forward to seeing more of Tentacles: Enter the Mind and growing Lemmy into an even more fearsome eyeball-ripping monster. Y’all best stay out of my tentacles’ way now.