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Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Celestial Mechanica (PC)

Celestial Mechanica is a side scrolling platformer with a steep difficulty curve and a stylistic 16-bit look. The game is developed by Roger Hicks and Paul Veer, who both should be well known to the indie gaming scene by now.

You play a robot, or rather a celestial being according to the game’s story, who is trying to find a way back home after being cast out. The earth is at the point of destruction and the celestial beings come out of nowhere and save the world.

The game takes you through a number of areas but closes of a number of sections of each area until you find the upgrade required to get to them. This “Metriodvania” structure could have been better implemented mainly because it was not always clear where to go. Within each area, the surroundings sometimes look very similar and it can be confusing. To add to the confusion, the camera is sometimes glitched and sometimes cuts off where you feel like it should follow you through this next jump resulting in you having to memorise what’s beyond the next screen.

The gameplay is your basic jumping around and over perilous pits and dodging enemies and obstacles. The game is very hard at times and brings you to the point of extreme frustration on multiple occasions. To add to that fact are the controls which can be hard pinpoint and sometimes I felt like it was a matter of luck to make a jump or run under a fireball. Combine that with the fact that the collision detection with some of the environment seems to be flawed and you will be at the point of a meltdown when you finally finish the game.

That’s not to say that the game is bad at all. I enjoyed my time with it to a certain extent. It’s pleasant to look at and the soundtrack does a lot to make an enjoyable experience. It’s very atmospheric and if the story hadn’t fall apart in the end it might have been decent. The visuals and the music do enough to hold the game together and you kind of forgive it for the problems it has.

Overall it’s a nice little piece and worth the two hours it takes you to finish it if you’re into the “neo-Metriodvania” scene. The gameplay is not the greatest and there are other games that do more interesting things with the format. Celestial Mechanica almost feels like it wants to be VVVVVV but falls a little short... but if you liked that brilliant game I would advise you to check this one out too.

- Arnar L.

Review: Celestial Mechanica (PC)
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