The tug war of cabbage defense vs. eat-’em-up invasion begins in the free game Who’s The Pest?. Will you take the side of Humans to protect the prized cabbages or identify with the ants to get some honeydew feeding the nest? In fact, you will play both, alternating on two maps to help one side achieve their purpose at a time while wondering “who’s the pest”.
Who’s The Pest? is a free, fun, tactical puzzler that is interwoven with the complex ecological relationships between insects, humans and crops. In the game, you will switch allegiance and travel through two tower-defense-styled maps separately. As humans, you can use various tools like apple cores, twigs, rocks, logs, etc. to block, temporarily halt, or mislead the invading ants in order to meet the goal – keep ants away from your cabbages while sending them down the throat of different ants predators. To aid the ants, you can only smear Pheromones along the path, guiding them to their food while avoiding the creepy prayers.
You need to use tools or Pheromones wisely to finish a mission in due time, based on the different characteristics of insects and the changing maps. For example, ants usually spread up at crossroads if there is no blockers; they can’t cross over a pond unless there is a twig over it; and when they are blocked by an apple core, they will first carry it back to nest and then return to pursue their original goal. Then, what’s the point of using an apple core? It is not meant to block but used to gather the spread-out ants together, so that they can be killed all at once by one Bombardier beetle with one deadly chemical spray.
Different predators have their own special hunting habits. Centipedes keep crawling on; huntsman spiders only eat one ant at a time; and the horse beetle won’t move again once he’s found something to eat. Learning their habits, you can either lead the ants to death or guide them avoid it. Besides, timing is another key factor regardless of your side. In a map with multiple circles, on one hand, you can use only rock – pick up it any time for repetitive use – to block ants to spread out while managing to send them to the jaw of the Mantis; and on the other, you can smear limited Pheromones to circular paths to keep ants alive from the passing centipedes.
Whatever is the side, you play a game about timing and strategy. The initial levels are more of a tutorial that explains the basic mechanics, so they are simple. As you move on, the challenge increases with more complex maps, limited tools or more praying animals. If you fail a level, you can try again or get a clue for passing successfully. Once you’ve finished a level, you will gain calories and see some fun facts about insects you may know or may not. Take a quiz. Do you know that humans on the earth are greatly outnumbered and outmassed – roughly weigh 25 times less – by the ants there? Or can the huntsman spider run sideways?
Who’s the Pest? is created by the award-winning studio Somthin’ Else in association with Pestival, a cultural organization dedicated to celebrating pests as caretakers of the planet. And it’s a game based on scientific researches in life and habits of the insect world and aimed to provoke people reconsidering the relationship between humans and insects during the game fun. Currently, it seems in beta version as there is none monetary feature nor the usual energy-typed (perhaps Calorie?) design implemented to it. Incomplete as it seems, Who’s The Pest? is playable (on both web browser and iOS devices) and playful, leading you into an entwined love/hate story between humans and insects.