If looking at the gameplay and Megaman pops into your mind, then you would be on the right track. It was a big influence on this game’s development, and like Megaman, this is an action-adventure platformer. There are shades of Sonic here as well in the level design – the better you are doing in the level, the higher you tend to be on the screen and the action leans towards pace and timing through many portions.
Slow it down
Zahra has a handy Proton Slinger that is critical to your success. You use it by holding ZR which slows down time, lets you aim, and then release in order to fling it out and grab onto objects in order to swing on them. The angle in which you approach the item determines the trajectory out, which you can see from an arrow that indicates the direction of travel. This makes for a fun and unique form of travel and it feels great to slow down time and jump from point to point. You also use the Proton Slinger to catch objects and throw them at enemies or to get through tricky sections – for example, you can catch an enemy’s bomb in order to throw it back and kill an unreachable enemy.
The game is divided into universes and stages within each one, there are three to explore and each has a unique design and feel that influences the mechanics.
You have the Goo world of Gootopia, the neon robot world of The Funderdome, and the apocalyptic dinosaur world of Reptarria to explore.
The levels of Gootopia feature different types of goo that affect you and need to be used in creative ways to progress. At first you need to jump quickly whilst stuck in the goo to escape, but later on, different types are introduced which produce different results, for example, the blue goo is bouncy. I loved the way in which how high you bounce is based on how high you are when you jump onto it from – it sounds like a minor detail but it is used to create all sorts of tricky situations where you need to figure out how to progress – especially when combined with the red sticky goo that lets you climb up walls and even hang from ceilings.
Funderdome features the levels that remind me the most of Sonic. they are fast-paced and use vertical space the most – you need to use your proton slinger extensively here to jump from section to section and time jumps onto neon billboards.
Reptarria is a wasteland universe in which the dinosaurs didn’t die, but instead evolved and run the Earth, the levels here use slings to propel you forward and backwards as well as having scrolling levels in which you need to keep moving quickly or suffer death.
Each level is well thought out and there is an impressive amount of variation. No two levels feel the same and this is what makes the gameplay so enjoyable. It would have been great to have a couple more universes to explore but the ones on offer are jam-packed with unique elements.
The game’s bosses, in particular, are a blast. These are big and flashy – they are not too difficult – I certainly found some levels more difficult than the bosses themselves which follow predictable and repeatable patterns.
In between levels, you often need to talk to the residents of R.I.F.T. in order to learn more about the objects and events you have seen on your travels. This part of the game is not as strong as the adventuring but it is a nice addition that breaks up the core gameplay without being annoying. The downside is that you can solve the cases through trial and error, I think they could have taken the concept slightly further, nevertheless, it does give you that immersive feel.
Bust a move and level up
You have a light and heavy attack from the get-go and killing enemies will drop energy which fills segments in your energy meter. The combat feels fluid and you combine these two attacks to produce combo style attacks on your foes. When you have charged your energy, you can use powerful skills such as a heal, a fireball, and a big blast – you don’t get to use these skills all the time so they feel well balanced, supporting a solid combat system.
I feel that nearly every game benefits from some form of permanent character progression and here we have it in the form of skills which you unlock as you level up. You have two types of skills – passive, permanent effects and equipable skills. For example, you can unlock additional attacks permanently and my personal favourite – a shield that absorbs the first attack against you before recharging. The skills system is a welcome addition, it is not too deep but it gives you enough flexibility to make a difference which is just right for this type of game.