By now you probably already know that Team 17 is taking a much-needed break from the Worms series, now over 20 games strong. But what you may not have known is that its new game Flockers draws inspiration from a style of puzzle game we haven't really seen much of since the early '90s: the Lemmings-esque real-time frantic puzzle-platformer.
On the off-chance you missed out on this particular aspect of gaming history -- there have been recent remakes of Lemmings, but none of them have been particularly high-profile -- the basic gist is this. You're given a side-on 2D level with an entry point and an exit point. Lemmings (or, in the case of Flockers, which we'll get on to in a moment, sheep) drop in through the entrance and it's your job to get enough safely to the exit to meet a quota. You don't control them directly, however; they mindlessly and continuously walk forwards until they either bump into something (in which case they turn around and walk the other way) or die. Your primary means of interaction with them is through a limited set of special abilities -- turning a Lemming into a Climber, for example, allows it to scale vertical walls, while turning one into a Blocker makes it into an impassable obstacle, potentially preventing other Lemmings from falling to their deaths or wandering into a trap.
While incorporating a number of familiar abilities from Lemmings -- most notably the ability to build bridges and block the inexorable tide of sheep with a Blocker-type character -- Flockers also brings a selection of new options, many of which are inspired by Worms. There's also one big improvement over Lemmings' interface: rather than having to click individually on all the characters you'd like to receive a special ability, a simple right-click will use a skill on a whole area rather than just one sheep.
Like Lemmings, you'll be rated on your performance at the conclusion of each level based on how quickly you solved the challenge and how many sheep you rescued. There'll be leaderboard support for those who like to compete against other players, and the game will ship with both a level editor and the facility to share your devious creations with the community. Community levels will also support leaderboard functionality, so you can see how you stack up against the rest of the world on your own level if you so desire.
Flockers is due to hit Steam Early Access either this month or early next. The initial version is set to include around 20 levels and Team 17 will be seeking feedback on aspects such as the gore factor and a possible "morality meter" that affects the game's aesthetic depending on how kill-happy you are with your woolly charges.