With so many platformers coming out every year, it’s hard for one to stand out. Don Salmon manages to do that by fusing elements of both horizontal and vertical platformers with a beautiful lilac and green-led colour palette.
Godot Engine, which is certainly starting to pick up interest from developers and the games community, is having a bit of a moment in 2023, and that was perhaps best underlined by the fantastic space that they occupied at GDC this year. One of the games made with the engine that were at the event was Don Salmon, although I didn’t actually play it at the expo hall, instead, I spent my time with it while at the Courage XL fringe event, where the Mexican developers had set up for demoing. I actually didn’t realise it at the time, but I’ve played some of their games before, but most notably The Lost Night, which I covered over on Indie Games Plus earlier this year.
Don Salmon takes the classic pixel platformer and gives it a really fun makeover, but beyond the visuals, there’s something really fun going on with how you manoeuvre your way around the levels. As I said before, it’s a combination of vertical and horizontal platforming, with you making your way — in most cases — from a bottom corner of the screen to a top-of-level exit. The horizontal platforming is fun, with wall running, dashes and a little bit of gliding (as you are, in fact, a bird and not a salmon). It’s when you need to make your way up the levels that it gets interesting.
Don has a little head-bouncing, flip attack where you briefly gain air after bouncing off the head of falling fish. It feels a lot like the combo juggling of action games, especially when you consider the wall-run and dashing, but most of all it feels really fun. It means that level traversal is a case of jumping and bouncing your way around a level, zig-zagging between points by bouncing yourself higher and higher. I’m almost certain that it’s been done before, but I don’t think it’s felt quite as refined as it did here.
Don Salmon is still fairly early in development, from what I can tell, but keep an eye out on Amano Games’ Itch page to find out more.