Games TM - - CONTENTS -

Or­di­nar­ily, puz­zle plat­form­ers con­sist of travers­ing through lo­ca­tions by clam­ber­ing a pat­tern of pre­de­ter­mined ledges. Sem­blance, how­ever, of­fers a much more in­trigu­ing and un­ortho­dox ap­proach to the genre that sees you change the very na­ture of your en­vi­ron­ment in or­der to progress.

tak­ing control of a quaint lit­tle blob, you roam around in a mys­te­ri­ous and min­i­mal­ist world that’s best de­scribed as a play­dough­filled fun­house. your lim­ited reper­toire of moves con­sists of run­ning, jump­ing and per­form­ing a burst abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late the many walls and plat­forms of this mal­leable world to as­sist your progress.

bash­ing into your sur­round­ings al­lows you to cre­ate your own so­lu­tions to puz­zles. for in­stance, if you need to get higher you can sim­ply knock against the bot­tom of a plat­form to cre­ate a higher sec­tion from which to soar from. If a cor­ri­dor is blocked by a pa­trolling en­emy you can cun­ningly carve out a nook to hide in un­til the coast is clear.

the stark nar­ra­tive sees our squidgy pro­tag­o­nist on a quest to com­bat a crys­talline mat­ter that has in­fected this soft, squashy for­est that’s home to all man­ner of cu­ri­ous and charm­ing crea­tures. events are told us­ing child-like draw­ings on cave walls. With no di­a­logue or ex­pla­na­tion, the onus is on the player to de­ci­pher the mean­ing of th­ese il­lus­tra­tions, but it’s all a bit vague and spo­radic to re­ally feel all that af­fect­ing.

the me­chan­ics and de­sign of the lev­els are in­cred­i­bly user­friendly; you can re­set any ob­jects you’re be­side with a sin­gle but­ton press, and the en­vi­ron­ment doesn’t undo your changes should your lit­tle blob meet its demise at the hands of a laser or sharp ob­ject. the ob­jec­tive of each area is to col­lect coloured orbs to re­move the con­tam­i­na­tion in that sec­tion. you’re free to ex­plore the world and at­tempt puz­zles in any or­der you wish, al­low­ing you to skip sec­tions and come back later. this negates the frus­tra­tion that comes with be­ing un­able to solve a par­tic­u­larly com­plex co­nun­drum, and they do get con­sid­er­ably more con­vo­luted, par­tic­u­larly when el­e­ments like bouncy plat­forms are in­tro­duced dur­ing the game’s lat­ter half.

as well as test­ing your abil­ity to en­gage in some in­ten­sive lat­eral think­ing, Sem­blance also proves to be a sur­pris­ingly de­mand­ing plat­former, re­quir­ing some fast fin­ger work after you’ve ma­nip­u­lated the en­vi­ron­ment to your de­sired de­sign. un­for­tu­nately there are a few nig­gles; your blob’s move­ment is slightly too fast, and the con­trols are a tad fid­dly for the level of pre­ces­sion that’s of­ten re­quired. With such a great prin­ci­ple me­chanic, it would have been nice to see some ex­tra ar­eas and puz­zles to fur­ther ex­plore the po­ten­tial of Sem­blance’s ex­tremely in­ven­tive core con­cept. nonethe­less, it’s an in­cred­i­bly in­ven­tive and en­gag­ing freeform ex­pe­ri­ence that is highly en­joy­able for the two to three hours that it takes to com­plete.

VER­DICT 7/10 a De­light­ful re­shap­ing of the Puz­zle Plat­former

Although you are given con­sid­er­able free­dom to ad­just the en­vi­ron­ments there are lim­i­ta­tions to avoid break­ing puz­zles or go­ing beyond the de­vel­oper’s vi­sion for the game. For in­stance, not all sec­tions are mould­able, and you can’t hit ob­jects di­ag­o­nally.


ty­po­man: re­vised

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