Two (or three or four) heads are better than one when it comes to solving the circuit puzzles, just be sure to work together
As I mentioned on the front-page, the best feature of the game is its cooperative gameplay – which should say something considering the magnificence of the single-player game. AVNT’s co-op mode is local only, so if you don’t have a gamepad controller, you and up to two of your friends will be crowding around the keyboard to control your respective TOMs through a combination of WADS, arrow keys, and numeric keypad. With a gamepad controller, that number bumps up to four. It all makes for an intimate co-op session, for sure, but also a fun one.
In co-op mode, a whole new set of levels (50 total here, too) open up that start off fairly simple and straightforward, and progressively get more challenging and require more cooperation from all players. The cooperative levels will occasionally toss a kind of electric barrier down the middle of the level that keeps a player on his or her respective side of things. So you may see the solution to the other player’s dilemma, but rather than just stroll over there and take care of it, you’ve got to communicate with them. Amidst the eventual chaos of an ever dwindling energy supply, anti-virus programs running around, and some other fun twists, successful communication of “turn that one clockwise… No, clockwise!” can be difficult. If you start shooting for the top spot on the leaderboard for the co-op level, well that’s going to add even more stress to the whole affair. There is nothing, though, like the synchronized movements of a group of players working as well-organized unit to clear a level, and striving for that level of perfection as a team certainly brings friends together.
Of course, you don’t have to always be cooperative when playing co-op. Two TOMs can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so there are plenty of opportunities to keep your friends from being able to escape from an anti-virus, or change one of their circuit pieces back to how it was (intentionally or accidentally). Fun natured griefing is certainly a part of co-op and AVNT provides you with plenty of chances to do so; again, whether intentionally or accidentally. When you get a group of friends into such a cramped space, it’s tough to avoid such incidents from occurring, and honestly, the game definitely wouldn’t be the same if it was missing. Sometimes, you’ve just got to teach your friends a lesson.
No chance for griefing here; like the song says, "gotta keep 'em separated"
Despite all these great things with AVNT, it is not without a flaw or two. The biggest flaw, when it comes to co-op, is the lack of any online play. Now this is a game that greatly benefits from local co-op for the reasons mentioned above. However, not having the option to play with your friends, who may not be quite so close to you, puts a bit of a damper on the fun. Interestingly, online co-op/multiplayer was something that the developers wanted to do, but just weren’t quite able to make it happen thanks to… two of the developers having a baby (babies: always demanding attention above all else). So, there is a possibility that such a feature could see its way into the game at some point. The only other flaw with the game is that many of the mechanics that are interesting and fun at first (such as the cryptographic covers or some of the later anti-virus programs), get a bit tiring after the 15th encounter with them. It’s an odd flaw, though, as it is more pronounced if you’re just playing through the game to complete it, than if you’re competing for the high score.
Between the game’s single-player mode, the cooperative mode, and the multiplayer vs mode (which essentially sees you competing with friends to see who can take over the most amount of grid space), there’s plenty to do and all of it is fun. This is in addition to a very fitting/catchy soundtrack and a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. It’s got a couple hitches that keep it from being a solid game, but it is easily a hearty recommendation to any and all puzzle fans out there. Now if you don’t mind, I gotta move my couch back into the living room…
A Virus Named Tom is available exclusively on PC (for now) through Steam and Desura. A review code of the game was provided by the developer.
The Co-Op Experience: The game is an action-puzzler. The puzzle comes from rearrange circuits to spread the virus. The action comes from dodging anti-virus drones while doing it. It’s one of the few puzzle games out there where you can play co-operatively (with up to 3 friends).
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.