By Ashley Ring / October 5th, 2016
|Release Date||August 31, 2016|
Going into Shiny, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t familiar with the game, or the developer, so I decided to check out some trailers. The relaxing music and beautiful atmosphere in the trailer made the game look like something I would enjoy, and be able to unwind with after a long day. After seeing what the trailer had to offer, I was really excited to play it. Having a mellow game to play amidst all the hectic fast paced games is something that I always appreciate. After playing through it, was the game as relaxing and fun as I initially thought, or was it the opposite?
Immediately after starting the game I was greeted with a cute intro cutscene featuring adorable robots working on a spaceship that’s running low on battery power and is about to crash into the sun. To prevent this from happening, we now play as a cute robot named Kramer 227 as he attempts to reactivate other robots and stop the ship from colliding with the sun. There’s no spoken dialogue or heavy usage of cutscenes, just an intro cutscene to establish our goal, and ending to give closure. The simplicity of the story works well for Shiny. It sets you up with a reason to go forward but keeps the gameplay and atmosphere in the forefront.
The level designs, backgrounds and music all come together to make what I felt was the star of the show in Shiny, the presentation. Every few levels you’ll have a new theme that will apply for the next two or three levels. Themes ranging from burning hot corridors with hydroponic presses trying to crush you; to beautiful cities surrounded by water. The music is beautiful and very mellow, creating that relaxing feeling that I got from the trailer. Soft piano tones mixed with some synthesized beats make up most of the soundtrack, and they definitely help give the games’ levels more of an identity and feel to them.
Shiny plays like a moderately paced 2.5 side scroller. Your goal in each stage is to reach the end while finding all of Kramer 227’s robot friends. Each level typically has 4 robots to find, but some stages may only have two or even none at all. Most of the time, they’re relatively easy to find , but the later stages it becomes only slightly more difficult. Most of the time, the platforming feels great, with responsive jumps, but one of thing that really hurts it is when you jump, the camera pans up with your jump. In the later levels, it often made me either undershoot or overshoot a jump because it just is very disorienting. You can hold down on the right analog stick to make the camera stay stationary when you jump, but I found this control scheme to be a little awkward. It doesn’t kill the experience, but it really does hinder it.
There are no enemies in any of the stages, instead, most of the challenge will come from tricky jumps and the environment. Some of the traps and hazards in the game can be very treacherous. One of the things Shiny loves to make use of is trap door platformers that will drop you to your death very shortly after you jump on it, so you’ll need to be careful and quick.
Other environmental obstacles like rotating fan blades and falling rocks will try to stop your progress. Getting hit by these aren’t instant death, but it will make a dent in your health bar. One environmental hazard that is incredibly annoying is the hydraulic press, which falls from the ceiling in an attempt to crush you. Normally, these aren’t annoying, but sometimes the game likes to put them in the middle of conveyor belts. When you’re on a conveyor belt, the hitbox for the press seems larger than it should be, and just standing next to it while it’s retracting, you’ll be sucked under it and die. This frustrated me a lot during my playthrough, as it was a frequent issue in several levels.
Your health bar is represented as Kramer 227’s battery, and it’s always draining. Running forward, jumping, using a power up, or as mentioned earlier, getting hit by an environmental hazard will drain your battery. While that may sound frustrating, most of the time it’s not. There are plenty of batteries scattered around each stage that will replenish some of your battery. Collecting these is very important, as you may find it difficult to survive before getting far. Thankfully, there are no lives in the traditional sense. Scattered throughout each stage are several checkpoints that have a limited amount of continues allotted to each individual one.
My only gripe with this system is that if you collect batteries and then happen to die when you reload at a checkpoint, those batteries will not respawn. This becomes a problem in the later half of the game where you’ll go long stretches while using power-ups without a checkpoint. Many times I found myself barely making a stretch, reaching a checkpoint with almost no battery left at all, or even reaching a checkpoint and dying right on top of it before I could activate it. This isn’t a huge problem, and it’s not something you’ll encounter until the later levels, but it can certainly be annoying.
The biggest battery drainers you’ll encounter are the power-ups, which are a mixed bag. There are three power-ups that you’ll acquire in Shiny. The first one you’ll encounter is an electrical force field, that when active will help protect Kramer 227 from falling debris. The ability is at best, situational. You won’t use it that often, and sometimes it may even be a better idea to just let the falling debris damage you because the force field drains your battery incredibly fast.
The second, and most definitely the worst, is the temperature power up. When Kramer 227 steps over fiery surfaces, his internal circuitry will begin to overheat very quickly, and if your temperature gauge gets full, it’s an instant death. The power up works so that when you are starting to overheat, you can rapidly press one of the trigger buttons to lower your temperature. Unfortunately, the amount it decreases per press of the trigger button is so minuscule, you’ll find yourself hitting it in succession until your battery is almost drained before you can manage to stop overheating. I really did not like this power up, and it made any instance where I had to use it a very frustrating one. Thankfully, the temperature power up is not used often. I won’t spoil the last power-up because it’s actually quite delightful and fun, and when I acquired it, I was having a lot of fun with it.
Despite all its shortcomings, I did have a lot of fun with Shiny. It wasn’t as relaxing as I originally thought it would be, but it still is a competent and fun platformer. I do think there is a lot to like in Shiny, especially at its low price of $12.99. It’s short and has a lot of kinks to work out, and some frustrating design, but the 4 hours I spent playing through all 20 of the games levels were still an enjoyable experience that I would recommend to platformer fans.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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