Anticto brings us, for what I can see, the first steampunk puzzle game of the year. Though the game isn’t brand new. Their first release was on PC in 2016. Now, almost 3 years later, we console puzzle enthusiasts get the opportunity to experience the pc game, brought to console. And how bad can it be? It’s steampunk, it’s puzzles, it’s a physics-based game. Nothing bad can happen with this mix, can it? Want to find out? Put on your thickest goggles, get those old timey clothes out of your wardrobe and let’s climb into our Gyro sphere, which is promptly called the Scarabeus. Oh, and maybe something for your stomach, no one wants to clean up spit-up from an interior, now do we?
What is Good?
- Difficulty: It has to be said, the game has amazing complexity and difficulty scaling. Your first couple of stages are perfect introductionary levels. From then on, each stage will start throwing you curveballs or add a new layer to your constantly expanding arsenal of abilities. No one level will feel like the one before, one moment you are struggling through a level that stresses your graphical insights, the other moment you are thrown a timing puzzle into your face. Where one mistake could lead you to restarting back from a previous checkpoint, as you wasted a precious steam ball.
- Replayability: Yes, boys and girls, this game has some excellent replayability. Each stage you complete has some extra challenges, this makes, for you completionists out there, an even grander experience to get those final achievements. Though don’t be mistaken, these are quite hard to achieve so, be sure you are prepared to put some work in, if you want to complete every challenge.
- Story?: The story isn’t a highflyer and quite dull. You are introduced as a young engineer that is called upon to rescue the people trapped down in a mine. And that’s it. From time to time you’ll get some communications with the ones trapped down there, but nothing mind blowing or anything that stands out. You can see this game was purely built around its intricate puzzles. Nothing more, nothing less. They could’ve actually just left the story out and purely made a puzzle game. It just feels like it’s trying to put some excitement to fill a sadly bigger flaw, the audio.
- Controls: Like, wow. This is a 2 parter. Part 1: Your movement. Boy does this feel underwhelming. Your Scarabeus is slow, like really slow. Although it looks and feels like it wanted to be Super Monkey Ball (steam powered), it fell short and isn’t as exhilarating as the previously mentioned game. If your tank runs out of steam? Game over man, game over. And you start at your last checkpoint all over again. So, patience is a virtue! But when you are going for one of the challenges? This will surely be a pain in your royal keester!
Part 2: The shooting phase. Alright this is the part that really got me frustrated. Albeit that this seems to have plagued the pc version as well. You shoot using steam power, right? Okay, so when you want to shoot it gives you a gauge where your ball will end up. It is this gauge that is frustrating as hell. For short distances, its ok. But the moment your balls have to get further, and need to go through tunnels to end up at a precise spot? Good luck. This thing is hyper sensitive! The slightest turn or decrease in speed can put your steam ball in places it never was meant to go… And wow this part will surely make the dirty minded people out there giggle!
What is Bad?
- Sound: The most troubling part that I had with the game though, was its audio design. Which was just boring and bland! I could almost say that it was nonexistent… So, what was it that infuriated me? It was the moment when I realized, sitting there doing a puzzle, and thought to myself. Wait, its quiet? There is actually NO soundtrack. So, you’ll just be sitting there during the puzzle sections, without any background music. And let me tell you, keep in mind that this game has some extensive puzzles, and doing those without the help of some sweet tunes? Is an extremely boring chore!
- Graphics: We got the short end of the stick, unfortunately. I compared the graphics to the PC version and for some reason ours looks like a downgraded version. And mind you, I’m playing this on a One X. The shadows don’t look as dark, the lighting looks more faded and duller. Keep in mind that the pc version specs aren’t even that high! This actually felt like a slap in the face. What made it even worse, was the fact that the framerate drops when there is a bit too much steam/action on the screen. Making this feel like a poorly optimized port from pc into the console market. Anticto, please, patch this because we all know Xbox can and deserves better. And on top of that? The game’s story telling font is way too small. I had to squint from time to time to read what was being said. And forget voice overs, because there are none. Sadder part about this is not all the font is like this, your journal has a bigger font and is perfectly readable.
Steamroll – Score: 50/100
All in all this is a solid puzzle game, which sadly is just a poorly optimized PC port. On the part of difficulty, I can really recommend this as it really likes teasing your brain and using your graphical insight. The other parts of the game though I am quite MEH about. It feels like they could have put a bit more work into making the game fully enjoyable. But for those who can get their itch scratched by intricate puzzles? You might want to give this one a shot, if you got the steam for it!