Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Semblance - Nintendo Switch (Review)

Semblance (Switch(reviewed), PC)
Developer: Nyamakop
Publisher: Good Shepherd Games
Price: $9.99

Semblance is the first game from South African developers Nyamakop.  It started out as a school project and they liked it so much they decided to make it into a fully developed game, and I am glad they did because I have been having so much fun playing it!

I think the best way I can describe this game is that you are playing as Meatwad in a jelly world.  You play as a soft little squishball in a world where everything else is also soft.  Then these crystals start appearing and making the world hard.  This hardness is deadly to you, so you have to avoid it at all cost.  You set out to figure out what's going on.

This really is one of the most unique games I've had the pleasure of playing.  I have never played a game quite like it.  This is a puzzle game, and it has an interesting twist: you reshape the terrain around you to solve the puzzles.  Semblance is being called a "playdough platformer, " and I think that's an accurate way to describe it. 

In order to solve the puzzles found in this game, you will be using your little ball to deform the squish around you.  If something is up high, you can squish sections of a wall into a ladder of sorts and just jump your way up to it.  However, once you move or deform part of the world, that section can not be moved in a different direction unless that whole section is reset.  So, if you push a platform over to the side, you can not then push it upward.  As the puzzles get more complex, this really causes you to think about what order you need move things and how you will deform them.  Especially when you start having to deal with the lasers.

Nice tight controlls are a necessity with a game like this, and thankfully that is exactly what we have here.  I mostly played with the Switch Pro controller, but the Joy-Cons work good too.

There are numerous puzzles to solve in each world, but if you get stuck on one, you can just keep going and come back when you think you are ready to take another crack at it.  I found myself doing that a lot while playing.  Sometimes I overthink things (okay, I do it all the time.  It's a living Hell!), so it's always best for me to take a step back from the problem that I'm facing and come back to it later.  This game lets you do exactly that.

As far as presentation, it feels minimalist, even though there is a lot of detail.  I know that doesn't make sense, but it's all I can think of to describe it. The game worlds all use very simple color palettes. This probably isn't the case, but it really looks as though only twelve colors are being used in each world.  In the first area, for example, the terrain is all done in various shades of purple, the backgrounds are red, and the crystal matter and enemies are done in green.  It's a wonderful look.  And there is a lot of little detail in your surroundings.  Creatures in the foreground are out of focus just enough so that you notice them during play while not distracting you from the important bits, things like that.

I never noticed any drops in the framerate in docked or handheld, and that's good because it would have made this precision heavy game nearly unplayable.

Even the menu is minimalist.  When you load up your game after the first time playing it, you are loaded up to the nearest tree portal that you were playing in last, with the option to resume, start a new game, or tinker with the options.  I like just getting dropped back into the game.  I don't have a lot of time to just sit around and play, so only having one button press to get right back into things is a huge bonus for me.

This being Nyamakop's first game has me very excited to see what they bring us in the future.  If they can continue this kind of originality, they should be very successful.

As far as I am concerned, this game is a must buy! Once everything clicks for you, this is a wonderful gaming experience!

This title was reviewed using a copy supplied by the publisher.