Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC
We’ve all played a platformer, right? Whether it was during the glory 16-bit days of the 90s or through the recent indie resurgence on 2D side-scrolling titles, it’s hard to have not played through what was once one of gaming’s most popular genres.
Whilst the likes of Mario and Sonic have seen you bouncing between platforms as you work across levels in the past though, Octahedron does something a little different – there’ll be platforms you need to jump between, but you’ll be generating most of them yourself. It makes for an intuitive and very fun experience, which when mixed with the impressive psychedelic visuals becomes a must play for platforming fans.
Rather than playing like a typical 2D side-scrolling platformer, Octahedron instead sees you working your way up through levels as you bounce between platforms whilst avoiding hazards and finding all of the collectibles around you. Of course, the fact you are creating most of these platforms adds a whole new dynamic to the game that sees you plotting your own route rather than following a pre-set one. It’s neat.
Naturally, you can only create a platform during a jump, so you’ll have to carefully pick the spot where you choose to generate one. Fortunately, they’ll follow you as you run for a few seconds, so there’s flexibility to be found in their creation and you’re not just pinned to one spot. For the most part, you can create two platforms at a time before you need to land on the floor of a level – this varies as you progress though, so you’ll always want to check what you’re capable of before you start plotting your path. Obviously, the amount of platforms you can use never makes things awkward though because each level is designed to cater for it, but it’s always worth checking your limitations at the start to save finding yourself in any awkward predicaments further on.
It’s worth noting that the controls of the game are precise and make platforming feel natural and easy throughout, so you’ll never encounter any problems that aren’t of your own doing. Don’t get me wrong: generating multiple platforms will take practice and precision, but once you’ve cleared a few levels you’ll find that you can generate and bounce between them with ease thanks to your fluid acrobatic abilities.
As you work through levels you’ll be able to smash an assortment of lights which cause flowers to generate on the map. Collecting these flowers is vital to progression, with certain levels only unlocking once you’ve acquired a specific amount. Naturally, this means you’ll want to set up your route through a level to smash as many of these lights as possible, which can be quite tricky – whilst some are easy to hit anyway, some really see you go out of your way to reach. It adds to the risk-and-reward element of the game though and pushes you to step out of your comfort zone a bit, ensuring Octahedron always has a challenging element to it that the player isn’t necessarily forced to pursue.
There are other collectibles to find through levels that’ll help you unlock new upgrades (which can be particularly useful during the more treacherous levels), whilst you’ll also earn medals for completing levels whilst generating as few platforms as possible or not dying. It’s never just as simple as completing a level in Octahedron, and there’s plenty of replayability on offer for those that want to clear all of its challenges.
The levels themselves are all well-designed, with over fifty to work through in total. Naturally, they all get progressively more difficult and introduce new hazards to overcome and mechanics to figure out, though they do follow the same routine of simply generating your own platforms to find a way through to the end. Interestingly, Octahedron has a rhythmic-theme in which certain elements of levels function to the beat of the music (which is brilliant, might I add) – it means you can take advantage of your surroundings by simply playing to the rhythm of the sounds around you. It’s a clever mechanics that allows the player to gain the upper hand if they just listen carefully…
Whilst the levels are typically well-designed though, there were a few that could cause frustration. Nothing ever felt unfair in the game and I was never stuck in one area for too long, but there were times when I’d keep dying over and over and would find myself in a mini swearing-rant. Luckily, respawning is quick and flexible so you’re not kept back too much, but you can expect to encounter a few annoying stumbling blocks as you make your way through the game’s latter stages.
If some tricky sections of levels weren’t bad enough, you’ll also have to deal with a variety of different foes too. Most are of your typical enemy variety and just linger around to cause you trouble if you make contact with them, but some actually go out of their way to bring down your platforms too. Fortunately, you can combat them thanks to the weapons you can unlock for your platforms (blasting them with an energy beam is satisfying), but for the most part it’s just a case of avoiding them. Add that to the countless deadly hazards and traps in levels though, and you’ll quickly realise that Octahedron isn’t a platformer that’s going to hold your hand…
Besides the satisfying platforming, Octahedron also happens to be a very pretty game to look at. The bright and colourful visuals have a psychedelic effect that really helps them stand out, whilst it also runs at a constant 60fps that looks impressive throughout. My only real gripe was that there wasn’t really much variety to be found in the visual style across the fifty-plus levels, but hey, at least it was always pretty on the eyes.