Every so often, a developer comes along with a crazy idea for a game which, in some strange way, makes you think: “Yeah. That could actually work.” One such idea is the basis behind Fly in the House, which unsurprisingly sees you hunting down a fly which has invaded your home. Unfortunately, in this case the result is rather poor. Suffering from a shortage of content, clumsy controls, and frustrating level progression, this is a game you’ll probably want to give a miss.
Coming up with a story for a game like Fly in the House may not be the easiest task, but it seems on this occasion that literally no effort went into it. If you select story mode, you’ll receive a straightforward piece of text, badly written, detailing the main character’s return to his apartment after years of travelling. Suddenly there comes a buzzing noise: there’s a fly in the house! Your new quest is to kill this fly, with little care for what else gets in your way.
The method by which you have to carry out this act of murder is by picking up various objects and trying to hit the fly with them. Anything is fair game; books, food, plates, tables, televisions, statues. Once picked up, you can either swing them around to swat the nasty critter, or else hurl them at him. Should you succeed in hitting your target, a message pops up congratulating you on your success, and informing you that the level is complete. That, however, is about it; there’s no closing statement to partner the opening one.
Of course, as you merrily fling your possessions around, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to get broken. By the time you’re done, you’ll likely have left a trail of carnage behind you, and the apartment will literally be in ruins. Windows can be smashed, pillars can be broken to bring the ceiling toppling down, and the vast majority of things can be wrecked in one way or another. You also earn points the more things your break, with a score multiplier for getting several objects at once.
So what exactly is the purpose of Fly in the House; is it to squash the fly or destroy the house (which is actually an apartment, so it’s a bit of a misnomer)? The game seems unsure itself, and this is actually its first problem. You earn points for breaking things, but you complete a level by killing the fly and it’s game over should the fly escape. The result is that the game lacks any kind of momentum, and will leave you with little motivation to keep playing.
Confusing things on this front even further is that while there are three levels – the apartment, the office, and the mansion – you don’t get to progress to the next one after killing the fly. Instead, this is only one of many criteria required to unlock a new area. Others include getting a high score from breaking things – a high score which is set extremely high, incidentally – or obtaining a certain number of in-game achievements such as “Sculptor”, awarded for destroying the statue in your living room. You have to spend a frustratingly long time in each level to get to the next, finding absolutely everything to break and exploring every boring nook and cranny.
“Frustrating” is indeed the word for this game. Anyone who has ever tried to kill a fly in real life will know the tribulations of the task, how infuriating it can be – and unfortunately, that is an emotion that Fly in the House captures far too well. It simply isn’t enjoyable. The fly itself is too difficult to hit, the conditions for progressing to the next level are too random, and, ultimately, the easier solution to your fly problem is to simply turn the game off.
Making all of this worse is the horrendously clumsy gameplay. It plays from a first-person perspective, with a targeting reticule in the centre of the screen with which to pick up objects. Sounds straightforward enough, you might think – but you have to be the right distance from something for the reticule to actually work. Stand too far away and the reticule will be hovering in mid-air; get too close and it will pass through the object you want to pick up. You’ll spend far too much time edging backwards and forwards trying to find the right distance, which is especially annoying given that you’re on a timer.
The physics tends to be temperamental as well. Sometimes you will throw a glass bottle into a wall, only for it to lamely fall to the floor without smashing. It’s a constant problem that things fail to break properly, particularly when thrown using the dedicated “throw” button. On the other hand, turn too quickly while carrying something – perhaps as you try to keep track of the fly – and it will sail out of your hands and across the room without you wanting it to, and moments before you can carry out the killing blow.
There isn’t a great deal of content to Fly in the House, either. There are only the three levels already mentioned, none of which are particularly interesting, and the story is practically non-existent. A touch of extra longevity is added by an “arcade” mode which allows you to explore levels without the fly, or with multiple flies, or with an even more limited amount of time to complete your mission. You can also change the light settings, so that you have to hunt the fly in the dark with only a flashlight, for example, but these options are unlikely to keep you engrossed for any reasonable period of time.
Fly in the House feels like it could have been more than it is. Had the story been fleshed out – perhaps satirising Moby Dick, with Ahab hunting the fly instead of his white whale – it might have even been a great deal of fun. Instead, it’s a messy arcade game which feels half-finished, and which you’ll have to struggle with to access all of its minimal content. It’s a waste of a concept, and speaking truly, you’d be better off finding a fly and throwing your television at it in real life. Honestly – you’ll probably have more fun.