Your world has come under attack by blobs of evil, what do you do? Hide probably, sadly that won’t be an option as you’re essentially forced to take up arms and rid the world from these blobs of evil.
Spheroids, a game, that at the time this piece was written, is awaiting to be Greenlit and is a trial version of the game. It’s a game that could possibly need a new name as there appears to be numerous games of the same name. A F2P space shooter, and another game that involves robots. This game however, is very different.
In a world of colourful landscapes, and blocky backgrounds, there stands a little pixelated, “Lucas” who sports a rather fetching hairstyle…oh it’s a hat. His lovely introverted day is interrupted by Otto. Otto, is the local mad scientist – aren’t they all? – who has been trying to hide possible alternative universes, but he ends up running through into, Lucas’ house screaming out that there’s an invasion. Being the introvert he is, Lucas is rather reluctant to save the world, but ends up doing that anyway after being forced to learn how to kill the Spheroids.
It’s a rather chirpy looking side-scrolling platformer that’s very vibrant, and cute. The protagonist’s appearance is high quality pixel art, with shading pixels and highlight pixels. This style follows through into the environment that you venture along, but the background environment comes as a low poly, and slightly less saturated style. It also has some slight depth of field to add that little bit of style to it. It works, it is a very pretty game to look at, it’s only ruined by the camera struggling to follow Lucas smoothly, thus resulting in juddering and distracting the player from jumping to the next platform.
You begin with a type of bullet-on-a-spring that extends vertically upwards from your character, or downwards if you jump and aim down. There are upgrades to use two of these tools, but to start, it’s just one. These bullet-on-a-spring things will neutralize the Spheroids, as you find out in the tutorial before you go out to the real world. A bit later on you also gain access to a grappling hook, and within the levels are cube that you can attach your grappling hook too, and – as you’d imagine – you can begin swinging or rising/lowering yourself around the level.
Using the bullet-on-a-spring thing, is rather limiting, as already explained, it goes up and down, and that’s it. Once it hits the top of the screen, or the floor, or a spheroid bounces into it, it will vanish and allow you to instantly fire another one. Once fired, any Spheroids that get hit by it, or even bounce into it, will get split, or killed; depending on what size they are. Seeing as this tool vanishes the second it touches an enemy, you find yourself being able to rapidly fire them like a crazy, bullet-on-a-spring firing freak.
The grappling hook is by far the weakest system, but that’s only because the game is in its early stages. Ideally, it’s designed to do what it can do, and that’s grapple, that allows you to swing, and reel yourself in. There’s an element of gravity failing when you use it, like most games, you can change directions suddenly mid swing, but in Spheroids, you can creep up against the walls and slide upwards, defying any sense of gravity. Unsure if this is how the developers actually intended, as it sure does come in handy. Tapping the launch key again once you’re grappled onto something will rappel you in quickly, a system that works well in later levels to avoid death.
You’ll come across various types of Spheroids, and although they all share the same body shape – nearly – they come in different colours, and sizes. The bigger they are, they more times they’ll split. Example, one huge Spheroid will split into two smaller Spheroids, splitting a smaller spheroid will split it into two more Spheroids. The colours can explain what type of Spheroids they are. For example, the yellow-orange ones are normally huge and ready to be split into smaller versions of themselves. The reds tend to be linked together and bounce in formation. The purple are stuck on the floor, walls, ceilings…everywhere. There are big, gigantic, Chrome Spheroids that appear indestructible. Don’t worry though, Otto is working on something.
It goes without saying, Spheroids is a beautifully cute game, while the world of Lucas seems polygonal, pixelated, and pastel, the Spheroids seem to come from a world of high quality, saturation, and curves. I really like the way it looks and how polished it feels. It’s just a shame there’s some camera elements that ruin the experience by being jerky when following the character, or shaking, or taking too long to fly back to a checkpoint.
Yeah, there are checkpoints, little glass boxes you stand in that fill with water and wash you down. Die, and you are taken back to this box, and on your next venture you’ll pass your previous body, a pile of mess under a hat. You have unlimited lives though, so that’s okay. Go die loads.
I did enjoy playing it, although it is still clearly a work in progress. The loading screen shows an Xbox Controller layout, and even though the game does display keyboard prompts throughout – such as purchase upgrade, exit screen, select – those keys that are shown aren’t actually assigned, and there’s no way to remap keys to your preference. An option to do this would be incredibly handy, as would having on screen key commands that are actually assigned to the right keys. Not only that, but what’s the point in having a cut scene wherein Otto explains the method of doing a specific new skill, then having Lucas act it out through an animation rather than letting the player learn it themselves in the safety of the lab?
This is a great little platformer, and holds a lot of promise to be something very addicting. For now, it’s good fun, a bit of a mess, but wonderful fun. Keep your eyes on it because it’ll no doubt impress you.