The premise of a platformer is usually very simple. Your destination lies at the end of a level. To get there you must negotiate a series of pre-placed platforms by timing your jumps perfectly, avoiding all of the level's traps and pitfalls, and perhaps vanquishing some enemies and collecting some objects along the way. Demimonde's upcoming title Octahedron
adds a bit of a twist. While the levels do indeed contain all of the expected traps and enemies, it's up to you to place the platforms that will get you to the end. The quicker you do this the better, seeing as you don't always have a lot of time to think.
The first thing that will strike you about the game is its presentation. While not as minimalistic as something like N++
or Thomas Was Alone
, the simple graphics that make up the strange subterranean world of Veetragoul are definitely colourful. The whole world pulsates in beautiful neon along to the game's dance soundtrack, which varies for each level. Alongside the developer himself, five or six other people have contributed tracks for the soundtrack, including renowned chiptune composer Chipzel. All of the tracks have a similar tempo so that players know roughly what to expect for each level and there are no nasty surprises.
Not only is the presentation simple, the gameplay is simple too. Alongside the left joystick for movement, only two buttons are used: one to jump and one to create a platform. Pressing the latter button creates a temporary platform that gives players precious few seconds to jump further up the vertical levels, while holding the button creates a platform that will glide left or right depending on the direction of the joystick. This doesn't make the levels easy to complete, though; while easy to pick up, the gameplay is difficult to master and one wrong move can send players falling back to the bottom of a level. While you won't be penalised for the actual fall, any enemy or trap that you hit on the way down will take away a chunk of your health.
The game begins with simple levels that introduce the mechanics gradually. Only one platform can be created at a time, but the game relies on players perfecting the art of jumping before creating a platform further up the level, effectively creating a series of stepping stones. You have a limited number of platforms that you can create in sequence. These are instantly recharged when the player stands on a platform within the level itself. Levels become more frantic later as enemies appear, traps become frequent and timing is far more crucial. Throughout the game, players can unlock offensive abilities for their platforms that can be used to vanquish enemies. If the player dies, they're respawned at the last checkpoint, so there's no need to do the entire level again.
Most players will simply be satisfied with making it to the end of the level, but others will be more interested in doing so with the highest score possible. There are two types of "collectibles" throughout the level. The first is different coloured pyramids that are suspended in places that are awkward to reach. The second is formed when the player smashes the lightbulbs that are spread around the level. For each destroyed lightbulb, a flower will grow further into the level that can be collected. Both flowers and pyramids increase the score, as does speed and completing the level with as few deaths as possible.
The premise of getting the highest score possible drives the urge to give the game just one more try, balancing the score of a collectible over the penalty of the extra time taken to reach it and working out the best route from start to finish. Speed runners will definitely be kept occupied for quite a while and this simplistic platformer will likely keep players coming back for more when it's released early next year on Xbox One.