Developer: Leo Black
Publisher: Back To Basics Gaming
I spent about 25 minutes playing this and recording it, planning on doing a video, because I haven’t done one in a while. I couldn’t find a way to reconcile what I had into a video of any suitable length so I’m just going to write a review for it.
Let’s get the good out there in the open first. The best part about this game is the music. Whoever composed it is good and should keep doing what they love, because they obviously put a fair bit of effort into it. The soundtrack is upbeat electronica that matches perfectly with the platformer genre.
Okay, there’s the good. Now for the bad. Brace yourself.
If you’re like me and you go into a new game looking for aesthetic blending and detail, you’ll almost immediately notice that one of the prominent background textures in the first level has a stock image watermark on it. You know, like the kind that you see on free low-res previews of stock images and textures from sites like Shutterstock. Almost all of the models and sprites are from what I assume to be various sources, as they clash in quality and appearance. The player character is a fairly static set of sprites, and the backgrounds and platforms are simple but hard to tell apart in some cases (like the incredibly poorly lit second level), though they generally appear in a similar visual style. On the other hand, the monsters and some of the decorative background pieces are fairly high detail 3D models that are completely incongruous with the rest of the art assets.
You’ll also notice that the controls are slippery and a bit hard to reach on a controller. On my Xbox 360 controller, jump is A (X on a PS3/4 controller) and air dash is Y (triangle on a PS3/4 controller). These are complete opposites of the right hand button diamond and are an absolutely terrible choice for platformers. Thankfully, they can be remapped, but not without quitting the game and starting it up – all the options are in the default Unity game configuration dialog box that appears on startup. I didn’t even know what the buttons were for the controller until I started pressing them all in sequence to see what would happen on each button press. There’s no in-game tutorial and the controls option on the game’s main menu only shows keyboard controls.
The game has a minimalistic HUD, which is good for open world platformers (which I think this game technically falls under, since there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the player’s progression through the levels). Unfortunately, it’s very obviously a test HUD, with no real effort put into making it look cohesive. I’d be willing to give the developer a bit of leeway on this one if, by the point of being five hundred words into this review, I had any faith left in this game’s future. The one short piece of dialogue I encountered was in dire need of spellcheck, capital letters, and punctuation. For a game that apparently has two different translators, according to the credits, that is inexcusable.
The gameplay is bland. You have a ranged weapon and can double jump and air dash, which comes really in handy when you realize that a combination of how far you’re flung back by wall kicking and how fast gravity takes effect that wall jumping doesn’t actually let you gain any altitude whatsoever (in fact, wall jumping just slows your inevitable spiky-pit-of-doom-based demise). Knockback from enemy projectiles is intense (more so than wall kicking), which wouldn’t be a problem if there were some way to use enemy projectiles as a platform a la spin jumping on a Magikoopa’s wand blasts and there weren’t so many of them coming in from offscreen or right next to a ledge that I could have sworn someone replaced my copy of the game’s executable with Imperishable Night.
In an almost impressive level of failure, the mostly-2D game suffers from severe slowdown at times on almost any settings level (dropping from a smooth 60 frames per second to sub-20 levels for several seconds at a time) on a respectably powerful computer (Intel i7-3820, AMD Radeon R9 290, both overclocked). This could be a unique problem to my setup, but if so, it’s not a problem with the Unity engine, as I play several Unity-based games on this computer regularly.
This game just isn’t good. It is apparently in beta, and is an Early Access title, but it looks and feels more like an alpha in the traditional sense of being a tech demo with a few outlined levels and placeholder art. There seems to be no direction, and after falling through the ground several times in a row in the same spot while going through the first level and being thrown around with a laggy camera and knocked back into an endless pit on the second, I couldn’t bring myself to play any more to find if there is any sort of plot or direction down the line. There’s no story (or really anything informative) on the Steam store page for this game. I’m not sure how it got past the Greenlight stage. I’m not going to speculate on that. This is just one of those cases where if I could send a game back into Greenlight, I would without any hesitation.
It’s just not worth $0.99 USD.