Platformines is confused. It doesn’t know what direction it wants to take, and the result is a mash-up of RPG and platforming that never really commits to either genre. Instead what we get is a timid approach to its inspirations, and whilst the combination of an RPG/Platforming hybrid may sound like a game we all want to play, the truth is much more disappointing.
The game starts off with you creating your chiselled action hero. A grizzled veteran that conforms to all 80s super-macho aesthetics, and rightfully so considering you’ll be watching him gun down everything in sight. Once you’ve selected the perfect shade of hot pink for your afro, it’s straight into the fray.
And for the first five or ten minutes things seemed to be looking good. There’s a hint of Spelunky oozing through the 2D cartoon aesthetics and, when combined with the smoothness of controlling your avatar, initial hopes for the game were high. It felt as though there might just be a promising platformer waiting to be unearthed. But that was not the case. Instead what you’re left with is the result of procedurally generated obstacles scattered across your path in the hope that it will make a world worth exploring. Whether it’s a randomly placed buzz-saw blocking off the dead air above you or an automated turret aimlessly shooting two blocks into the floor below it, there are obvious flaws in the design. It doesn’t make for a meaningful experience, and by expecting the game to generate something worthwhile, a lot of the magic that goes into making a challenging platformer is lost.
Platformines’ idea of character progression is naught but a gear grind and not a fun one either. The idea is by progressing further out from the starting zone, you will encounter tougher enemies who are likely to drop bigger and better guns. Whilst this is the case, the enemies rarely differ between difficulty tiers, instead simply becoming more powerful re-skinned versions of their weaker incarnations. What’s worse, the same can be said for the weapons. Half way through my play session, I stopped caring about the minuscule differences between my current bazooka and the one that had just dropped. They weren’t very interesting and any desire to seek out better loot is all but lost.
The objective for the game is pretty simple; gather a number of coloured cannons that have been scattered around the game world and use them to repair your spacecraft. It’s not an overly complicated scenario to wrap your head around. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s too simple. So much so that after the third or fourth cannon has been obtained you’re likely to stop caring about the enemies that litter your journey, choosing instead to rush down each cannon in the hope of finding something new to do. Once all of the cannons have been collected, you’re tasked with rebuilding your ship by shooting the right coloured blocks into the correct positions on a template. Your mission is complete and you’re left with a sense of dissatisfaction as things come to an end.
You can probably tell by now that the game didn’t sit too well with me. In fact, I’m somewhat annoyed with the end result. Mechanically, the game is sound. The animations are smooth and feel responsive enough for the demands of a platformer, and through all of its faults, it’s a well built game. What irks me the most is the lack of focus. The idea seemed to be a combination of RPG progression by way of procedural loot – akin to games like Borderlands – whilst simultaneously providing a lashing of platforming that saw you jumping across tight gaps as you fight off the hordes with your big guns. Instead what we get is a lacklustre adventure through a meaningless world, as two genres collide to make something less than the sum of their parts.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.
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