By Eric Chetkauskas / October 13th, 2015
|Title||Almightree: The Last Dreamer|
|Release Date||September 7th, 2015|
At first glance, Almightree: The Last Dreamer takes the block-climbing puzzles from Catherine and combines them with a brightly-colored visual aesthetic reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In fact, this perception of the game holds up throughout.
Almightree starts off with an expository cutscene to set up the plot for the player. The world is literally crumbling apart under your feet. As the title suggests, you are the last Dreamer; everyone else is gone. A message from the great Almightree tells you that to save the world you need to revive the Almightree’s seedlings — a mystical power you seem to have. As such, the end of each level is marked with a withering Almightree seedling.
You move along a series of blocks arranged in a three-dimensional grid. You can climb up onto (and down from) adjacent blocks. As the game progresses, more abilities and obstacles are introduced. First, you learn Plantsportation: the ability to transport blocks from one place to another. Then, the game starts making things difficult by placing blocks that can’t be transported and plants that interrupt Plantsportation when you walk on them. Later in the game, there are objects which can physically hinder your progress, such as Dandelishocks, which pulse with electricity, and Coconacannon, which, as their name implies, are coconuts that shoot seeds at you like a cannon. Being shocked or struck by cannon fire doesn’t do damage per se, but it does stun you for a moment, slowing you down. This can be a problem since, as time passes, the blocks that make up the stages will fall — the world is crumbling apart after all — and if you don’t move fast enough, you’ll fail the level.
The puzzles themselves aren’t difficult. In fact, I’d say that, for the most part, they were fairly easy. Though, there was one stage towards the middle of the game that gave me fits. That one took me a few days to figure out all the puzzles. Aside from that one, I was able to breeze through most of the puzzles either immediately or after a few moments of thought. I know many people consider easy puzzles a flaw, but I’m not one of them. I’d rather feel the momentum of progressing through the game than the frustration of getting stuck over and over again. You can change the difficulty settings in the menu, but it doesn’t change the puzzles, just how much time you have to solve them. On the Hard setting, the game gives you challenges to complete in each level. It’s an interesting way to increase the game’s replay value.
Although, one thing that I would consider a flaw would be the controls. The game did not respond well to input, either from the keyboard or a gamepad (I used an Xbox 360 controller). Trying to quickly climb a set of blocks was made much more difficult than it should be when the game didn’t respond to one of your button-presses, sending you in a completely different direction than intended. To avoid being hit by cannon fire, the game tells you to use blocks as a barrier, but movement was so slow, that I found it quicker to just walk through the gauntlet and tank the hits.
As I mentioned earlier, the graphics bear a resemblance to The Wind Waker. The game doesn’t use cell animation, but the colorful blend of green grass, brown dirt, and blue skies (not to mention a blonde-haired hero) certainly brought back some memories. Almightree‘s gameplay also reminded me of that one obscure island in The Wind Waker where you have to climb to the top by using blocks. The similarities didn’t stop at the visuals; Almightree‘s soundtrack was similarly atmospheric with slight Celtic elements. I don’t mean to imply that the game is anything like The Wind Waker, so you’ll be disappointed if you go in with that attitude. It’s just there was a lot of little things that were pleasant reminders of it.
I enjoyed Almightree: The Last Dreamer. Although, the controls were frustrating, the puzzles were, for the most part, easy enough to progress through. I put in only about 7 hours into the game. The ability to teleport blocks opens up multiple solutions to many puzzles. The game did have multiplayer options where you can race against an opponent, but I was unable to try them out. There was no one to play with locally, and whenever I tried joining an online room, there would be no opponents available. After completing the game, there’s a twist at the end, which may or may not excite you depending on whether you liked the game or not. Despite its flaws, Almightree is definitely worth the $4.99 price tag, especially if you enjoyed the block-climbing aspect of Catherine.
Review copy provided by publisher
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