14/10/2017

☆ Review: SpaceBOUND "Why Ever Leave the Planet?" ☆

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Oh no, there is blood everywhere! They’re both dead again…and…I really don’t care.
The trailer exclaimed it perfectly: prepare to die a lot, and I have to give them points for honest advertising. 

I’m getting ahead of myself. Two astronauts have crash landed on a dangerous asteroid and must depend on each other—literally tied together by their love of life and oxygen—in a series of mines that hides secrets and deathtraps. 
This is the debut game from the studio known as Gravity Whale Games, as they punish eager explorers with SpaceBOUND. The title is a puzzle-platformer where players control two characters who are tethered together while they attempt to overcome motion and physics-based trials in zero gravity. Out and exposed in the cruelty of space though, each adventurer must be protected, as well as their cord, or the entire mission for survival will be a failure.


I think I hate this game. In a good way, if it is possible to hate something in a good way. That might be a rhetorical question, but either way, I’ve learned that space is really frustrating, and no one should leave their home planet, or stuff like this happens. I suck so bad at this game, but thankfully I’m not the only one, and I got further than a few people could at least. At least I had fun making my wife play to hear the colorful expletives that came from her mouth.
Difficult is a word for this, challenging for sure, but perhaps masochistic is the best descriptor, especially for those who attempt the time trial mode. I’m not someone who is against hard games within reason, but this game will require some persistence, logical thinking, patience, and timing, all while possibly dealing with an inner rage. 
I still enjoy Bloodborne, even though I’ve never completed it, and I had a lot of fun with Super Meat Boy, but those two gave me less of a headache for sure. The game vexes me, especially when I get so close, or do everything right, only to make the smallest of mistakes before watching one or both of these meaty fleshbags explode into a spray of thick red blood or sprinkles of confetti. Everything will kill them, and I don’t just mean the saws, lasers, or walls but over-shooting, not compensating, or even just the slightest hesitation equals death. I was so close to quitting on the second level, and determination only goes so far if this isn’t something players are used to.


Floaty controls make the game more difficult, but that makes sense—being in space with the floating and all. Yes, the controls are simple, but they still remain the biggest antagonist as well. Twin stick controls lets the player have one thumb on each astronaut, with their authentic space pants, moving them about either in unison or opposite of one another while trying not to get confused about which is which or get wrapped around small obstacles. It is much easier to do that than one would think. 
I was slightly embarrassed at times. Did I mention that death means having to start the entire puzzle all over again? This adds so much to my aggravation. There is an option to have co-op; two players play, each controlling one of the space cadets on two separate controllers, and I can only imagine how much more difficult that could make things. Note though that there was online co-op previously, as well as the existing local play, but on September 19th the developers removed the network play due to issues, but it was not considered an official feature and reportedly did not factor into the cost.  
The most entertaining part is the experimentation, figuring out what the puzzle wants done to be solved. My favorite part of the game might be the music, which can be switched between several various tunes at any point with a simple button press, and the track list covers quite the spectrum. 
Visuals are fine, crisp, with some bold colors against the dark backdrop of space and rocks. The game works of course in its 16-bit aesthetic. There are some fun and interesting boss levels, collectables, and even unlockable skins to keep those who can stomach the pain coming back. 
Anyone who might want to suffer as well can of course do so for the low price of $9.99 on Steam, but I’ll be amazed if most people get past those first couple of bosses. I never realized what would make puzzle games so much worse would be those elements mixed in with bosses, but the idea seems so simple now.


Summary 
The site for the game has my one word review covered: Brutal. I had no real problem with the game. Nothing major was wrong with the gameplay and the only glitch I found was with some controller issues, like both men being controlled by one joystick. The only thing that kept me going through this was that slight bit of excitement when I got so close to beating a puzzle or finally made it to a new zone, but over the several nights I played, my quitting came with pure mental and emotional exhaustion. 
I say this knowing this isn’t my usual bag though, and there are plenty of people who would find more fun in this. It’s a wonderful debut for a new studio, a neat title for what it is, and a good example of a successful kickstarter and money from fans spent. I, however, think I’ll go ahead, take some Asprin, and give it one last swing before I click uninstall. 

RATING: MELTING

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam

Review By Wilds