Who doesn’t love a good portal in a video game? Ever since playing the likes of the original Prey and Portal, I’ve always appreciated their use. Heading from point A to B in a snap? Perfect. Unbound: Worlds Apart takes the popular portal mechanic and does something a little different with it. Rather than acting as a means of teleportation, these portals instead affect the environment and anyone who finds themselves within one.
It’s a clever idea that helps makes for a varied and fun experience, with the 2D adventure certainly one that platforming-adventure fans will want to take a look at.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Unbound: Worlds Apart puts players in the role of Soli, a young mage who finds himself in a spot of bother when his home is attacked by a vicious evil force led by the Demon King. It turns out that this evil is corrupting all aspects of reality, with the various interconnected worlds tearing apart. Fortunately, Soli survives the initial attack on his world and must now use the power of portals in order to vanquish the threat once and for all. With plenty of characters to meet that help flesh out the narrative as well as some stellar world design, I really enjoyed Unbound: Worlds Apart’s tale. Sure, the whole ‘evil force attacking the world’ thing is a bit overdone, but there was enough charm on display to keep me invested in Soli’s story until the end.
The core gameplay mechanics of Unbound: Worlds Apart are built around using the aforementioned portals. Soli is able to explore the 2D landscape freely, but will come across plenty of obstacles and puzzles that can only be overcome by placing a portal. These portals can be activated with a quick button press, but only affect a small circular portion of the map, meaning correct placement is required if players hope to take full advantage of the powers they offer.
“The variety of portals on offer ensures that travelling the world is always unpredictable too, with plenty of new ideas implemented across the game to keep the puzzle-solving feeling fresh.”
These powers are pretty varied, with some portals changing Soli’s size or strength, some brightening the environment, some affecting time itself, and some even altering gravity, just to name a few. The first portal you unlock simply opens another dimension, which brings with it different objects (and sometimes threats) that can be used to get through an area. It might add a moving platform or even remove a wall in your path, with the altered world that appears always proving much different to Soli’s own.
The idea that there’s a different world on the other side of Unbound: Worlds Apart’s levels never stopped being cool, especially since it was always just a portal away. The variety of portals on offer ensures that travelling the world is always unpredictable too, with plenty of new ideas implemented across the game to keep the puzzle-solving feeling fresh. Unbound: Worlds Apart certainly doesn’t run out of ideas, which ensures it remains fun to play right until the end.
Whilst quick-thinking and clever portal placement is imperative to your success in Unbound: Worlds Apart, good platforming skills are also required if you hope to survive. Soli unlocks more platforming skills as the game progresses, with things like wall-jumping, double-jumping, and dashing ensuring he can head towards those hard-to-reach areas. Basically, he has the sort of skills you’d expect from a 2D Metroidvania-style title’s protagonist, so if you’re familiar with the genre you’ll know what to expect. That being said, I am using the term ‘Metroidvania’ very loosely here; whilst there’s plenty of exploration to be done in Unbound: Worlds Apart, it’s a pretty linear experience that only requires backtracking when seeking optional extras. It’s definitely worth reaching those previously inaccessible areas though, especially since they often bring with them fresh story details.
“The hand-drawn fantasy setting is full to the brim with vibrant colours and unique sights, with some truly mystical landscapes to explore across the game.”
I had a lot of fun playing Unbound: Worlds Apart, with its blend of platforming and portal-based puzzling making for a 2D adventure that actually felt unique. The genre is a crowded one, especially on the Nintendo Switch, so it was nice to play something that genuinely felt a bit different. That being said, it’s not the easiest of games, with some sections demanding some real clever thinking and quick reactions to get through. Players will have to be prepared to do a lot of running, jumping, and split-second portal switching to get through the game’s tougher challenges, which can be overwhelming at times. The impressive boss battles can be tricky too, with each requiring the use of your portals in more inventive ways to overcome. Basically, you can expect to die a lot, but an abundance of checkpoints and quick respawns ensure that it never feels frustrating.
Presentation-wise, I’ve got to give Unbound: Worlds Apart some praise. The hand-drawn fantasy setting is full to the brim with vibrant colours and unique sights, with some truly mystical landscapes to explore across the game. There was the occasional area that could feel a little bit dull thanks to the game’s Metroidvania setup of having labyrinth-style levels, but it never stopped being really pretty to look at.
My only issue came with the game’s performance, with hitches to the frame rate a fairly common occurrence. There was nothing that really signalled them hitting either – I’d understand if it was because I was in the middle of a busy section or battling a boss, but nope, sometimes it’d occur during the simplest of sequences. Don’t get me wrong, it was never anything game breaking and it didn’t ruin the experience for me, but it was still a bit of a nuisance.
Unbound: Worlds Apart is a charming 2D adventure that doesn’t only offer some neat portal-based puzzling but is also really pretty to look at. There’s plenty of variety to be found across the world thanks to all of the different portals players can use, whilst some clever level design and tricky boss encounters will ensure the journey is never TOO easy.
It was a little disappointing to see some frame rate hitches when playing on the Nintendo Switch, but hopefully it’s something the developer can fix in the near future. Thankfully, it didn’t stop Unbound: Worlds Apart from being a lot of fun to play and an easy title to recommend to fans of the 2D puzzle-platforming genre.
Developer: Alien Pixel Studios
Publisher: Alien Pixel Studios, Digerati
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC