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.