Octahedron

Posted by GG Goblin On April - 4 - 2018

Definitely one of my favorite shapes.

 
While the 3D platformer may still be struggling to make a comeback, the 2D platformer genre remains very popular with new titles being added with frightening regularity. To stand out in this crowd of platforms, any new 2D platformer will have to offer something a bit different, something to make it stand out from the crowd. Demimonde’s offering of Octahedron, which is released as part of the Square Enix Collective, certainly stands out by offering a different layout from the norm, some really interesting mechanics, and the ability to melt your eyes.

 
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The game starts out with a relatively normal cut scene involving some guy wandering through the woods and coming across a strange shape which, upon touching, transports the guy into the migraine-inducingly colourful pixel world of Veetragoul. To get home, out hero will have to make his way through and finish some 50 odd levels. As far as stories go, Octahedron is pretty bare bones. But platformers rise and fall on the quality of their gameplay, and there is certainly plenty of rising in Octahedron.

 
This is one of the key areas where the game stands out from the competition. In Octahedron, the player is working their way up the screen, rather than from left to right. This raises the obvious problem that missing a crucial jump can see the player falling way back to the beginning of the level, a rage-inducing situation that probably happens more often than it should thanks to Octahedron’s slightly off jumping mechanics. I am no expert on the precision platformer, but the jumping feels a little more floaty than I would have expected, leading to more than a little swearing at the screen. That being said, there is another unique mechanic that that both resolves and adds to this problem.

 
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Our hero, on being zapped into this mysterious, colourful world, has developed the ability to make platforms appear under his feet. With the simple press of a button, a short-lived platform will appear, giving the player that extra height or distance to reach a proper platform. The player begins by only being able to make one platform appear before stepping onto a real platform, but as the player progresses, different levels will allow the player to create as many as is needed for the level. It’s a great mechanic that gives rise to huge possibilities when it comes to reaching the end of a level.

 
It takes some getting used to though. The platforms only appear for a short time, and the player is expected to quickly work out how to move the platform, which feels strangely unnatural. Remembering how many can be used in a given level can be tough, especially when the number goes down  and the player discovers that their lifeline is not actually there. The platforms can have other uses as well, such as breaking light bulbs or even attacking enemies. The mechanics are not given a lot by way of explanation, but are introduced slowly enough that most players will be able to get to grips with them quickly, even though they may never feel as natural as your standard platforming controls.

 
It is strange to begin with. It takes a while to actually trust that the platforms work. Until I could trust in the mechanic, I found the progression was slow and repetitive as I was constantly focused on the magically appearing platforms rather than my final destination. Octahedron is not a particularly hardcore platformer, as progression is slow and steady rather than coming up against skill based full stops, but it is tricky and takes time to feel comfortable to play.

 
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That being said, there are plenty of ways to make the game more difficult, for those who feel they need it. The levels are filled with collectibles that will stretch any players ability should they want to collect them all. Some collectibles can even be used to upgrade our hero and give him platforms that last longer, for example, giving more reason to the collecting. Then there are targets to aim for within the levels, such as not dying or only using a certain number of platforms to reach the exit. This all adds to the longevity of the game as well as the challenge.

 
Octahedron is an almighty splash of colour. It’s a great looking game, bright and vibrant, but can suffer from over doing it somewhat, especially when the action gets hot and heavy on screen and the colours leave it difficult to make out what is actually happening. There is also an excellent electronic soundtrack which is not only great to listen to, but also has some bearing on the game. Overall, Octahedron is really nicely polished.

 
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The best that a 2D platformer can hope for is to stand out, and with distinct visuals, an excellent soundtrack, vertical platforming and player-created platforms, Octahedron is pretty unique. It is simple to understand, but will take plenty of practice to master. If you are looking for a 2D platformer that offers something different from the crowd, Octahedron would be a great choice.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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