Back in 2016 God As A Cucumber made one of my favorite puzzle games on Xbox, Quatros Origins. At 1UP, a Belgian game convention I ended up talking with Stijn, the friendly person behind God As a Cucumber about his new game project, and was immediately interested. When I finally had my hands on Liquid Sunshine it was a bundle of emotions and most of them not good. I wanted to like this game for multiple reasons, I liked the developer, I liked the previous game project so much, it is a game from Belgium, … but I have to remain truthful for you, my readers.
What we liked!
- Visual style: Liquid Sunshine’s art style is simply fantastic, no better way of describing that. They even went the extra mile with the cutscenes by adding a 3D effect, while this is merely a gimmick it looks really neat and easily controlled by the right stick. The same visual love is clearly visible while playing the game, I have no other words but looks crazy cool. The black and white effect isn’t a new thing in gaming but it is executed very well and stands out between all the other Xbox games.
- Story: This game is made completely with one idea in mind, bringing a visual novel to life. So having no voice work is actually a good thing here, the big text boxes work awesome with the gorgeous style and it manages to tell a rather unexpected story that remains engaging from start to finish.
- Disconnected by design choices: It took me a while before I realized why I didn’t really care for the characters. Despite having the lovely comic-style cutscenes. The issue is the transitions between cutscenes and gameplay, they simply don’t match. What happens in the cutscenes totally don’t relate to what you end up playing. In the crafty cutscenes, there is a sense of danger of constant pushing or stress and the gameplay is completely opposite. There is zero danger, nothing action related and you can literally take all the time you need. While this doesn’t really affect the score much I wish I could have more immersion while playing Liquid Sunshine.
- More or less always the same: As I mentioned before the lack of danger has an influence on gameplay too. While the puzzle-solving between the three characters is decently crafted and has a fine increasing difficulty I still ended up wanting more. More as in, more types of gameplay mechanics. I really love the fact that the trio of playable characters each has specialties though, one can crouch or can be kicked over long distances, one can jump higher and the final character can move heavy objects. They also have some moves together for overcoming high ledges. Seeing them work together is Liquid Sunshine’s biggest charm.
What we disliked
- Animations: My biggest annoyance comes from the animations, because of the great monochromatic visual style these terrible woody animations stick out like a sore thumb. It just isn’t fluent enough and what makes things worse is getting stuck in a specific animation that forces you to restart the section. This happened to me on multiple occasions, I already made an exception and posted our review later to see if updates solved this but unfortunately the wackiness continues to be an occurrence. People are buying and playing this NOW, there is honestly no excuse enough to launch a game with broken animations. And I mean this a as general rule, I am overly done with the “we will fix it later attitude” that plague our gaming industry.
Liquid Sunshine has some great visuals and a good story but it failed to meet my expectations. It has some great puzzles involving the three characters but the gameplay lacks action or less repetitive thinking. It is memorable in many ways but a game needs to be fun, and this is what I missed while playing.