Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Concursion review


Concursion is the first game to be released from the indie developers Puuba, and it's kind of impossible to define the genre, as the whole basis of the game is an interlocking mix of 5 different retro styles. Throughout the game there are platforming sections, hack and slash levels, side scrolling space shoot-em-ups, as well as both jetpack and Pacman-esque maze segment. On top of this, boss battles include elements of even more classic genres, such as turn based RPGs and 1v1 beat-em-ups. It's a solid idea for a game, and produces some truly challenging and inventive gameplay.

Each genre has its own unique character with their own individual abilities. Throughout the levels you will change between the characters by crossing a border into a different world. These boundaries are often placed in such a way that completing the level requires perfectly using two characters abilities to their fullest. For example, the jet packing astronaut has no offensive capabilities, so you may need to cross over into the world of the space shoot-em-up to destroy a wall that is blocking your progress.

You will have to cross back and forth between the worlds to progress

Unfortunately, the game sounds better on paper than it actually is. Some of the characters are more frustrating than they are enjoyable. The platformer, for example, feels like a watered down version of the hack and slash's ninja; the platformer's special ability of running only makes you travel as fast as the ninja's default speed anyway, who in addition to this also has the ability to double jump, wall jump, and is armed with a sword for dispatching enemies and barricades. The astronaut is possibly the most infuriating however. With an inability to walk, you must get everywhere with your jetpack, and the physics take an incredibly long time to get used to. Slowing yourself down when falling takes much more time than you would expect, and you often find yourself dropping too far and falling to your death or into danger.

Some of the most fun levels involve a top down maze character who plays out a lot like Pacman. These levels are much rarer than the rest however, which is disappointing as they seem to be the best designed of the lot. There isn't too much to say about the space shooter, however avoiding enemies is often a lot easier than engaging them in combat, with sitting at the top of the screen out of the line of fire is usually one of the safest tactics for the levels. The level select screen is a direct homage to Super Mario World, but unfortunately that is where the comparison ends. There are no alternate paths through the game, there are no bonus levels, just a linear progression that is halted as soon as you get stuck on one of the levels.

You get to play in a variety of classic styles, such as the 2D space-shooter

Graphically, the game isn't anything to write home about. The characters look generic and very basic, and there isn't too much in the way of world map or enemy diversity. The music is largely forgettable, and often does a good job of being there but not noticeable, for better or worse. The music at the end of the levels however never changes and can very quickly become grating, failing to fit in with the rest of the game at all.

All in all, Concursion is a great idea, but one that is better than the end product. Whilst it could have been something special, it's let down by some awkward physics, lacklustre character abilities, and mediocre graphical and audio design. If there is a second game in the future, then hopefully this will be remedied, as the concept is truly deserving of a great game.

5/10

by Mike Aitchison

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