I reached this game in my backlog a little over a month ago, but noticed it was STILL in Early Access, so I decided to hold off on playing it until it was done. Not long after, I encountered a second game that also promised a major update would be coming soon, so I postponed that game as well. So, you may be wondering: why did I decide to play it now, even though it’s still in Early Access? Well…
Because those two games are the last ones in my Steam backlog.
Also, since the game’s recent updates mostly concerned the level editor and cosmetic changes, I mistakenly assumed that the campaign was finished. Nope; it stops after world 3.
Platformer. Besides standard left/right movement and jump, you can do a sliding kick by pushing X on the ground and you can swap characters with right stick. The game often makes you do this on the fly, so you can push L to slow time for a couple seconds, giving you enough time to move your thumb from the face buttons to the right stick and back. Alternately, you can have the face buttons be the swap-character buttons and have the shoulder buttons be jump/attack, but that just makes things even more awkward.
Each of the four characters you swap between have unique abilities that honestly could’ve easily all been combined into a single control setup for a single character and were only split to give the devs an excuse to make you use the awkward swap mechanic. The red character can double-jump and dive-kick, the green character can float for a few seconds and bounce off spikes harmlessly, the yellow character can wall-jump four times and ground-pound, and the blue character can forward-dash and use a homing attack. Despite the need to swap between characters frequently, it manages to work pretty well for the most part. My only issue with the controls is that the blue character’s forward-dash is mapped to jump, while her homing attack is mapped to X. If you’ve played any other game, you’ll know that dash is normally mapped to a button that isn’t jump, and if you’re familiar with modern Sonic games, you’ll know they have the homing attack mapped to the jump button, making this game the exact opposite of intuitive. Even when you think you’ve finally gotten used to it, muscle memory will take over at some point and get you killed again.
Level design is pretty good. The first few levels do a decent job at ramping up the difficulty while still letting you get used to how the game controls. The only issue I had with any level in world 1 is this one level that takes place at night, so it has a dark transparency over everything that makes it kinda hard to see the mushroom enemies and their tiny shots. World 2 is still mostly good, but it introduces swimming and underwater segments, which add momentum to your left/right movement! Then there’s level 2-4, which has a blind jump where you fall down a shaft, then suddenly there’s a part of the wall that has breakable blocks you need to dash through, and if you’re not quick enough, you keep falling into a pit and die. Also, to get one of 2-4’s optional collectibles, you have to hit a switch and collect some diamonds–but not all the diamonds, just the three large ones at the top and a few in the giant cluster of little ones in the middle; if you try to get all the little ones, the timer will run out on you, but if you get all three big ones and only a few of the little ones, the game will spawn the collectible for you. Quite unintuitive.
Then there’s the boss fights. First of all, every single one of them are wait-to-attack bosses! They make you wait long enough that you’ll think you have to hit them somehow, but all your attacks just cause you to take contact damage, and you die in two hits (and dying means waiting through ALL previous attack cycles again since bosses have no checkpoints). The first boss has you float up an updraft (that can randomly spawn right next to the boss, meaning you can’t really avoid taking a hit) so you can ground pound a log that has never shown up before now, and you have to do it on the correct side or the log will ricochet away from the boss and not deal damage. The second boss does a better job at introducing what you have to do (ground pound the floor), but there’s a lot of waiting you’ll need to do between when the boss tosses the bombs you can ricochet back at it. Also, you have to hit this boss SIX times (with lots of waiting between each hit, remember!), and the arena floods after the third hit; for this part, collecting the “stay underwater” tokens in time is fine, but the boss’s dash attack is suddenly slightly higher, meaning you just barely can’t single-jump over it anymore, and getting killed because of THAT and having to redo so much waiting is really frustrating. (not to mention the techno graphics and underwater transparency make everything less distinct).
World 3 also sees its level design quality start to dip. Graphics are less distinguishing, gimmicks are less intuitive, and the optional collectibles start getting easier to miss (I never missed any until world 3, except the “don’t take damage against bosses” ones). One of the new enemies here is a rat that’ll run away from you and throw a rock in the exact right arc to hit you when you try to jump on it. There’s a jump so wide, you won’t see the next platform until you’re over the pit. Stationary spotlights stay on for too long (yes, they hurt you on contact). 3-2 introduces rocket platforms that move forward automatically and which you can guide up/down, except that has even worse momentum than swimming! Also, there’s a part where you’re just supposed to figure out that the pink bubbles that don’t really stand out from the background that much are actually bounce pads that’ll reverse the direction of your rocket platform, and if your rocket platform hits a wall instead of them, you just die outright. This world also has a mini-boss on top of a regular end-of-world boss, and of course, it’s also wait-to-attack, but worse since the length it runs before attacking is variable, so you can never be sure if it’s safe to jump over the boss or not.
Overall, this one’s hard to recommend. Not only is it unfinished, but all the bosses make you wait, with the waiting compounding upon previous boss waiting, and the level design starts to falter as well by introducing less-intuitive gimmicks and more momentum (less responsive controls). Wait for a sale, and DEFINITELY wait for the game to be out of Early Access.
So yeah, even though I’m technically not done with my Steam library, there’s not a whole lot I can do with it until those two games are updated, so you can consider this a tentative “I finished my Steam library” milestone. I still have a bunch of other games from elsewhere, so I’ll be sure to make a post when I find a game decent enough to warrant posting about.