Passive-aggressive plants on the prowl

Author Jabb
Platform Linux, Windows (must compile)
Version 15th December 2011
Website https://github.com/jabb/BileBio/

BileBio is a tiny arcade game with roguelike feel. It started as a 1DRL and had some development later. Every game stage has but one aim which is the same every time: reach the stairs alive. The problem is caused by massive plants growing at astonishing speeds. If something would happen to grow on you – it means death, although BileBio does not explain exactly how you die.

Plants in BileBio are combined of roots, flowers and vines. Each part can spawn more of its kind. Roots are indestructible and can spawn new root in any place at the board. They can also burst producing four flowers around it and lots of vines. Flowers grow new plant parts in chess knight pattern while vines grow into adjacent squares. The last two forms can only grow up two times before decaying and withering. Roots sometimes also wither but it is uncommon event. An active plant segment is highlited in red (beware!); decaying segments are displayed in brown.

An elusive thing hinted at in readme is the nectar. Presumably it is worth many energy points and score but I have to encounter one yet. Having reached up to level 31 with 51440 points of score none were generated. None in all games I played. It might be exceedingly rare or not placed due to some bug. Whatever the reason I never found any nectar.

The game presents player with nine abilities to learn at varying costs. These are organized into three branches in which to acquire the higher ability one must have earlier one as a prerequisite. At any time up to three different skills can be learned. Some abilities center around wall usage. Hiding inside one is possible and grants safety for a time. Jumping over a single wall is very helpful in mazes and also cheap. Dash can be quite boon before the growth becomes dense or in short windows of opportunity right after some parts decay. Attacking a plant can be guarantee of survival in some cases but in other jumping over it may be preferable. Finally one can spawn a wall to hide in. The remaining skills have almost prohibitive cost of attaining them. You need to expend sixty points of energy before you can use any and still need more to benefit or fuel previously learned tricks. These are: extra lives (50 energy each), repellent lasting ten turns (costs 10 energy) and energy tripling from nectar (free, but find any nectar first!).

Obstacle and stair arrangement is chosen from a set of twelve handmade maps. Some have multiple exits and plenty of walls to use wall hop or wall walk. Others are mostly empty relying on growing plant life to create variety. Over longer playthrough lack of procedurally generated levels or at least more prepared maps is weak side of BileBio.

There are two factors that factor into difficulty. How many roots are spawned when the stage begins and how fast the plants of given stage get active. At early stages the plant life may die out if helped a bit but with progressing stages the green infestation gets to expand faster and faster.

A specific weak point of the game is unreliable numeric keypad handling. Orthogonal directions are read fine but diagonals are not recognized on every computer. Vi keys are provided as an alternative. That and requirement to compile the game from sources relegates BileBio into obscurity.

To sum up BileBio is a fun thing to try but it is not going to hold your attention for long.

5 thoughts on “Passive-aggressive plants on the prowl

  1. Jo

    Hey Slash good to see you posting. Sorta of an obscure review man, but I this can be a very obscure sort of genre.

  2. Michał Bieliński Post author

    Yep, that’s me. :-)

    I tend to write about obscure roguelikes because those could use some spotlight the most.

  3. jabb

    Hey, thanks for doing a review. Glad to see there is some interest in the idea. I was thinking about expanding it and polishing it in the upcoming 7DRL challenge. :P

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