LASER - Light Amplified by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. HAZARD - Exposure or vulnerability to injury, loss, etc; A thing likely to cause injury, etc.
All is not well at the underground recycling plant. There's been a terrible accident and the lower floors are on fire. The generators have cut out, and the only way to power the lift is by using the plant's recycling laser beam. It's a race against time to escape the flames.
Laser Hazard takes place on a lift, upon which blocks of different colours are deposited. In a manner similar to many puzzle games, you can remove groups of blocks of the same colour, in this case by firing your laser at them. Things are not quite so simple as this, however; new blocks arrive every few seconds, and if they stack too high, the lift will stall. At the same time, the lift is draining your laser energy, so you need to keep zapping blocks to generate more.
Fire too often and you'll run out of power too. It took me several attempts to figure out why I kept dying when I was apparently doing so well at destroying the blocks, and hence generating power. There is no manual as such and the game help only tells you so much. I'm still not sure why I've died on many occasions.
Controls, however, are very straightforward - you have two lasers, being the basic cannon (powerful but slow) and the pulse laser. Move the target with the mouse, and both lasers are operated by the mouse buttons. Simple, instinctive and excellent.
I like the graphics for Laser Hazard. The main game is limited to a fairly static view of the lift as it climbs the shaft, but despite this everything flows smoothly and professionally. The blocks are fairly plain but even here some effort has been made to make them seem slightly transparent, and to shine a little. It is when you fail, and the lights go out and the flames appear, and especially when going through the double doors that lead to the game area (lift), that you see what the artist is capable of.
Sound is good. The background music involves fitting factory sounds, and remains fairly subdued, so it doesn't distract. Sound effects are fairly limited - the arrival and destruction of the blocks, and the sound of your laser beams are the majority of sounds you'll hear, though the crackle of flames rising up is rather good.
This is a fairly slick production and the biggest thing against Laser Hazard is the lack of clear instruction. A little more in-game tuition would make a considerable difference. I also found the game rather tough - not all of a chain of blocks will be destroyed when zapped, sometimes rather arbitrarily, and when a new pile of blocks appear the laser targetting loses lock.
There is room for a little improvement here, but all this recipe needs is a pinch or two of salt. The concept behind Laser Hazard is a new twist on the standard Tetris/Crystals games and the recycling message is also good.
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