Monday, 27 January 2014

Review - Into The Underdusk (PC)

Stuck in Limbo. Again.

Back in 2010, when cult XBLA platformer Limbo was released to commercial success, it paved the way for more emotional, sometimes disturbing, platform games, proving that they needn't all be about colourful cartoon worlds full of sweets, coins and hearts. Into the Underdusk, a new indie title from Almightyzentaco, follows suit, featuring a hero who exists in a world being overcome with darkness. With all the world's memories fading away, he wants to obtain a precious locket so that he can remember his beloved one last time before blackness consumes everything.

Uplifting plot lines aside, Into the Underdusk is a wonderfully retro exploratory platformer which tasks you with locating eighteen blue orbs, which are scattered around the reasonably large game world. You cannot die in this world, with any contact with an enemy of hazard returning you to, what I can only assume to be, the afterlife for a few seconds, before returning you to the last checkpoint you touched. Standing in the way of you and your treasured keepsake are an assortment of evil critters including bats (of course), skulls, bugs, fire-sitting flowers, and even an irritating mask that follows you, very much like the one seen in Super Mario Bros 2.

It looks and plays very much like one of the popular flick screen platformers found on home computers such as the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum back in the 1800's when they were popular. Even with its basic visual style, the game has a great sense of atmosphere, with dark caves, strange castles, and volcanic depths to explore. The ambiance is enhanced considerably by the somber music that accompanies your travels. There are, the now compulsory, Metroidvania elements which involve collecting new abilities such as double jumping and the ability to see secret passages, which are essential for reaching new areas. I was initially put off by the relatively slow player movement, but a speed up is one of the first upgrades you find, and improves the game no end. 

Into the Underdusk is a charming and engaging platform game which will keep you hooked until its all-too-soon conclusion. It can be beaten in about an hour by a seasoned platform gamer, but the great pixel graphics, moody sounds, and clever level design will keep you totally immersed the entire time. 

Download the game from Game Jolt, here.

Title : Into The Underdusk
Developer : Almightyzentaco
Year : 2013
System : PC
Price : Free