Ode

EDGE - - GAMES -

Aplump lit­tle crea­ture en­cased within a translu­cent ball sets off on a pres­sure-free, chal­lenge-light mu­si­cal jour­ney. It might sound pun­ish­ingly twee, but Ode is, well, a joy: the kind of game you’d get if you spliced Grow Home and

Elec­tro­plank­ton – or, per­haps, Super Mon­key Ball if it was re­made by Björk. With hints of Katamari Da­macy, too, Ubisoft Re­flec­tions’ lat­est ex­per­i­ment is a splen­didly bouncy and tac­tile celebration of sound.

You’ll roll through tun­nels and caves of dark, glit­ter­ing rock, with lightly per­cus­sive thumps ac­com­pa­ny­ing each bounce. Bul­bous pro­tru­sions will rise up from the ground as you tum­ble past, bump­ing you along and pro­duc­ing mu­si­cal notes. You’ll stum­ble into other un­earthly life­forms: col­lide with a cluster of pur­ple polyps and you’ll hear the hiss of a hi-hat, while writhing noz­zles spray out motes of light, as if you’d dis­turbed a nest of fire­flies. Fun­gal growths sway, pulse and un­du­late, some suck­ing you to­ward them, others blow­ing you up and out. Then there are larger green growths that lean in as you ap­proach, turn­ing or­ange when touched; ac­ti­vate all these within the lo­cal area, and a cen­tral mass will burst open, re­leas­ing rib­bons of light that dart out­ward. The sound­track that has been build­ing al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly since the start be­comes louder, gain­ing an­other layer of in­stru­men­ta­tion, and you re­alise that your ev­ery action has been con­tribut­ing to this strange, alien per­for­mance.

Mean­while, spher­i­cal star pieces act as both a bread­crumb trail and a col­lectable of sorts, sub­tly guid­ing you while at­tach­ing them­selves like limpets. They’re eas­ier to shake off, mind: the left trig­ger casts them out, with the right call­ing them back and cor­ralling them into a tight cir­cle. You’ll need them for some light en­vi­ron­men­tal puz­zles, throw­ing them at green nodes that re­treat if you get too close. Colourful pools prompt var­i­ous trans­for­ma­tions, af­ford­ing you new ways to ex­plore and make noise across these four large worlds. Per­haps the best of these turns you into a kind of trea­cly Slinky, as you slurp your way up rocky steps.

On oc­ca­sion, Ode can be slightly fid­dly, with an in­con­sis­tent jump caus­ing a few un­wanted falls, though with no time pres­sure it hardly mat­ters. Oth­er­wise, you’ll feel a sense of sat­is­fac­tion that’s rem­i­nis­cent of Okami, in that your very pres­ence is help­ing bring a quiet world to bright, flour­ish­ing life. That gen­tly eu­phoric feel­ing crescen­dos at the end of each stage as you as­cend to the skies; there’s no post-game re­sults screen to tell you how many orbs you found or how long you took, but none is needed. In ev­ery sense, the plea­sure here is in the play­ing.

Other ob­jects will spo­rad­i­cally hitch a ride: some parp out notes, while a bomb of sorts re­leases a bassy pulse which sends your collected star bits scat­ter­ing all over the place. Still, re­triev­ing them is re­ally no bother at all

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