By Marisa Alexander / March 4th, 2019
|Title||Almost There: The Platformer|
|Publisher||The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild|
|Release Date||February 19th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
Hardcore titles are about a dime a dozen these days, ranging from simple to complex. Almost There: The Platformer is, obviously, a platformer specifically designed for challenge and speedrunning. Developed by Bony Yousuf, you control a small cube with a red bandana jumping across pits, around spikes, past saw blades and more. It has no story to speak of, so let’s dive right in to see what the game has to offer. Should be quite a challenge, at the end of the day.
Mechanically the game is very simple. You only need three buttons to play: two to move and one to jump. After moving in one direction non-stop for a short time, you can dash. Dashing continues as long as you don’t stop or change directions. Another method of movement is the ability to cling onto walls and wall jump. Unlike the Mega Man X series and similar titles, you merely move in the opposite direction to jump, while changing directions mid-air performs a kind of double jump. That is the tool set given to players, being very simple and quick to understand.
As for obstacles, there are spikes, pits, falling platforms, turrets, lasers and saw blades. The game introduces these obstacles steadily one world at a time. All of these kill the player in one hit but levels are exceptionally short, most going on for about fifteen to thirty seconds. As such, even if you die, the start is most likely seconds away. There are 155 levels, separated into three worlds. The main challenge is to go from point A to point B, indicated by the sparkle of light. Even though the game allows players to take things slowly much of the time, going faster awards stars. These are for achievements where getting under a certain time grants a star.
Overall, I would say the levels themselves are okay. For the most part, there is nothing inherently wrong with them. While there isn’t a huge variety of obstacles, the game does a decent job in varying the challenge. For example, laser walls can be stationary, move, or even flicker out before appearing again. As such, the laser walls are used in a multitude of ways. Same goes for all the other dangers. That said, it still didn’t feel all that satisfying to complete these levels. This is most likely due to a combination of lack of charm and incentive to speedrun.
As mentioned previously, the game was designed with speedrunning in mind. However, the actual execution of the overall game makes the idea of it very dull. Much of the time, you are not so much speedrunning through a level so much as just surviving. For example, there are levels that you need to stay on a moving platform, effectively making the level an auto-scroller. The way to get the last star is to just hop off the platform at the earliest moment. Combined with the games straightforward nature, where a majority of levels only have one solution, speedrunning is very lackluster.
As for lack of charm, that is mainly attributed to the game’s presentation. The game’s art style is extremely basic, only comprised of geometrical shapes, a very limited soundtrack, and very few backgrounds. As such, throughout playing it was difficult for me to have any sort of emotion. There was frustration at points for sure, but that was more directed at how the game can be very specific as far as wall jumping is concerned. In turn, upon reaching the sparkle of light, I merely felt like I completed one level out of many.
Difficulty-wise, the game ranges from moderate to somewhat hard. A few levels are exceptionally difficult but overall the game is not overbearingly hard. Speedrunning can definitely make the game a fair bit more difficult but not by too much. However, there are a few times the game does feel cheap. There are times when spikes on the ground or wall will suddenly begin moving, sometimes close to the player. With hardly any time to react, it’s likely you will be killed and start over, only to bypass the obstacle the next time since it only has one trick up its sleeve. Other times it was due to climbing a wall where you have to button mash exceptionally rapidly merely to survive. Instances such as these don’t feel challenging, just a mark of frustration.
Overall Almost There: The Platformer is merely an okay experience. Far from interesting, it is still structurally and mechanically sound. Having played for about an hour and half, this does make for a decent time waster. For about $9.99, it could very well be worth looking at for fans of hardcore platformers. Bony Yousuf had the idea of a hardcore platformer and has indeed delivered on that idea. Perhaps with more tricks that could be performed or less waiting involved, next time a truly marvelous speedrunning game could be produced. In my opinion, speedrunning is about finding an alternative solution to go faster. As such, if future projects would delve into that, they would most likely be highlights for me.
Review Copy provided by the publisher
Almost There: The PlatformerBony YousufHardcore platformerPCPS4QAGSpeedrunningSteamSwitchXbox One