My first impressions of Blanket Fort Games' Influence, prior to playing, were pretty neutral. It looks lovely - you can see that from the shots on this page, and particularly the ones shown here - but it also seemed as if it might be tame, too mellow to keep me from the many other IGF entries for any great length of time.
Happily, I was wrong. Although Influence may be simple enough to play (no keys or clicks required, only mouse movement) very rarely was I able to perform anything other than frantic hand-twitching whilst my eyes darted from corner to corner of the arena in search of my next victim or escape route. It is, thankfully, deceptively good.
Ideas form the theme of the game. Despite essentially being a deathmatch experience, Influence does try to recreate how certain thoughts can take on a life of their own, consuming alternate thinkers, pulling passers by into their ranks and, in certain circumstances, completely dominating anyone who might oppose them. Each id in the game must be captured for victory and doing so simply requires your followers to exceed the enemy's numbers whilst you convert them.
The music in the game is soft synths and sporadic piano key presses, all dynamically generated by the little ids in each army. Joyfully, capturing the opposition en masse will create a flourish befitting the effect of consumation and growth. You can even save the song at the end of each battle, which is nice option, particularly if you're the kind of person who revels endlessly in your own glory.
By its tranquil approach to RTS gaming, Influence is particularly reminiscent of Eufloria. It's just as straightforward but also as cutthroat as that title. The game is primarily a multiplayer experience, although you are able to set up custom matches against some incredibly aggressive AI opponents. I wasn't able to find anyone online to play it, but I was using the demo version and whether this is reflective of the online population in the full game I'm unable to say. LAN is also an option.
Influence is currently available in demo form, here. You can also purchase the full game here for £6.00.