We’ve seen plenty of games blend together genres in clever ways over the years, but I’ve never seen one mix up platforming with RTS battling before. It’s the unique hook of Smelter, the new release from developer X Plus, that challenges both the platforming prowess and tactical nuance of players as they look to save their loved one. It makes for an enjoyable experience too, even if it doesn’t necessarily do anything too original outside of the genre amalgamation.
Smelter’s tale REALLY takes things back to the origin of humanity, with the player taking on the role of Eve as she looks to rescue Adam. You guessed it; he went and ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, with the punishment seeing light striking down from above and the world collapsing around them. With Eve separated from Adam and falling into a pit full of dangers, hope seems lost… until she meets a strange creature named Smelter.
Imbuing Smelter’s form to gain new powers, Eve looks to fight through the danger and try to rescue Adam. Of course, Smelter also wants to use Eve to help build up his empire to conquer the world, but you can worry about that as you go along…
Whilst the tale’s biblical undertone is certainly intriguing, it is in the gameplay that Smelter really shines. As mentioned, Smelter utilises multiple genres that offer plenty of variety as you progress through the adventure. You’ll spend time traversing through platforming challenges whilst pummelling baddies and evading hazards, and you’ll also spend time taking on a more strategic role as you help build Smelter’s empire.
“Whilst the tale’s biblical undertone is certainly intriguing, it is in the gameplay that Smelter really shines.”
The platforming of Smelter is straightforward in design. Levels bring with them plenty of jumping challenges that’ll see you leaping across each locale, there are an array of foes to take down with your multitude of weaponry, whilst you’ll continually unlock new abilities that’ll help with both your progression through levels and the beating up baddies. It’s very by-the-numbers as far as platforming is concerned, but it still makes for a good time. Those different abilities ensure you’ll constantly have to think on your feet too, whether that’s when evading a hulking opponent or simply reaching an area that would typically be inaccessible – sometimes, you’ve just got to be creative.
It’s fun and will certainly click with 2D platforming enthusiasts. It doesn’t offer anything that you wouldn’t have seen before, but levels are intuitively designed to offer a good balance of challenge and variety. My only real beef came with the game’s checkpoint system, which could be a little imbalanced in some instances. There were times where there’d feel like an overabundance of checkpoints, but there were also times where I’d have to replay entire sections again – it never seemed to hit that sweet spot.
Of course, it’s not all about action-packed platforming in Smelter, with elements of strategy introduced as you battle in the overworld. If you’ve played an RTS before, you’ll be right at home: you’ll have to gather resources, craft buildings, and establish an army in order to wipe out your rivals.
“It doesn’t offer anything that you wouldn’t have seen before, but levels are intuitively designed to offer a good balance of challenge and variety.”
It might sound intimidating if you’re not experienced with the genre, but it’s all easy-going. Nothing in these sections is ever overwhelming, with it made clear what exactly each unit does and how you can improve them. Heck, you can even take control of Eve during these sections to unleash bombardments of attacks upon your enemies directly, so even those lacking strategic prowess won’t be at a complete disadvantage. Either way, they’re neat sections that add an extra groove of strategic excitement to Smelter.
What’s most interesting is the way that the platforming and the strategy sections compliment each other. The things you collect whilst traversing as Eve can be used to help build your empire, whilst building a stronger army overground sees Eve’s capabilities improve when platforming. What’s impressive is that it never feels like a balancing act, with progression through each mode of play feeling natural throughout. It shows how finely-tuned Smelter’s experience is a whole, with both genres feeling established in the world and never tacked on for the sake of it.
“It never feels like a balancing act, with progression through each mode of play feeling natural throughout.”
That being said, despite its impressive diversity, Smelter can be guilty of feeling a little uninspired at times. As mentioned, the platforming doesn’t do anything you wouldn’t have seen before, so it’ll rarely blow you away – even IF some of Eve’s upgrades are pretty cool to use. The same goes for the strategic side of things, with its simplicity meaning that it rarely pushes the boundaries as far as tactical thinking is concerned. It’s like a jack of all trades but master of none, with Smelter doing more than enough to entertain but rarely striving towards greatness.
It’s hard not to appreciate the effort though, with the blend of gameplay mechanics doing more than enough to keep me completely invested in the adventure. Add to that the fantastic visuals, the epic boss fights, and the optional (but satisfying) platforming challenges, and it’s clear that a lot of care has gone into fine-tuning the experience to keep players happy.
Smelter’s blend of platforming and strategy gameplay makes for an entertaining experience, even if neither aspect offers anything you wouldn’t have seen before. It’s all finely-tuned and fun though, and offers enough variety to ensure players will be hooked in right until the very end of the adventure.
If you’re a fan of platformers, a fan of strategy titles, or just intrigued by the idea of both working together, Smelter is definitely worth checking out.
Developer: X Plus
Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.