A rhythmically good time.
The Square-Enix Collective, a kickstarter-esque platform for creating video games with the support of Square-Enix, has featured some awesome and some not-so-great titles. Octahedron is the newest addition to the Square-Enix Collective game launches, and it features rhythm based platforming gameplay set to a techno rave background. For $12.99, is the low price tag worth the relatively short game? We’ll take a look in our review below.
Good platformers are difficult to come by, and with platformers being a dime a dozen, it takes effort to sift through all of them. Octahedron is the story of a writer who falls into the psychedelic subterranean world of Veetragoul and must escape by utilizing a set of platforms and jumps to climb his way out. The concept is pretty simple, but the execution of the game makes for a difficult endeavor – in a good way. On the PS4, Octahedron requires the use of the X button for jumping, the R2 button (or Square, but I found switching between X and Square for platforming difficult) for placing platforms, and the R1/L1 buttons for switching platform types. I had an easier time utilizing the D-Pad over the left joystick for movement (mostly for precision purposes), but the choice is up to the player.
Platforming in Octahedron feels good, as you can place your platforms and jump up to either an in-game platform or one you create. While doing so, you need to avoid various traps, hazards, and enemies that will each cause a heart worth of damage (you have three to begin each level but can add more as you play). As you progress through the game, you unlock multiple variations of the original platform that allows you to annihilate enemies and overcome obstacles. The game is pretty strategic that way, as it always felt like I could plan multiple routes to reach my destination. As an added level of intrigue, Octahedron has set numbers of platforms you can utilize without touching the ground per level, so strategy really comes in to play when traversing levels.
The goal of Octahedron is to collect enough neon flowers to unlock the exit of each stage. There are 30 flowers in each level with bonus tetrahedrons to collect. As such, Octahedron is a completionists fantasy, as there are plenty of collectibles in each level that require thought and skill to obtain. In order to collect the flowers, you’ll need to surf your platform through neon bulbs that typically hang from elevated land sections, then climb (or descend) to reach them. Fortunately, you don’t need all 30 flowers in each level to unlock the next stage, but they weren’t too difficult to obtain and were aesthetically pleasing to bust, anyway.
The place where Octahedron might lose its more casual audience is within its difficulty. The game and concept itself is simple, enjoyable, and addicting; however, it ramps up its difficulty rather quickly and reminded me of an easier version of Super Meat Boy (to be clear, it’s nowhere near as difficult as Super Meat Boy, but it does get pretty aggravating). Still, if you go into the game with the knowledge that it may be difficult and frustrating, you shouldn’t be disappointed in the experience.
Now, Octahedron styles itself as a rhythmic platformers. While there is much rhythm and solid electronica/psychedelic jams to be had in game, the experience itself really doesn’t rely on syncing your movements to the beat, like the synopsis implied. Sure, some hazards on the levels moved to the tempo and maybe the colors danced with the rhythm, but I never felt like I was quite moving to the groove. I was too busy focused on staying alive to really enjoy the music (even though the soundtrack is solid and fits the aesthetic like a glove).
Visually, Octahedron is a treat for the eyes. It’s simple, but the color schema and rave like sparks bounce with such perfection and ease that it makes you want to linger. The only issue I had with the stunning visuals in Octahedron is that I occasionally found myself dying because there was too much noise on screen. There’s a segment, for example, in the second world that sends hazards around a set of blocks. Your goal is to jump up through them with impeccable timing in order to reach the top. Conceptually, it’s an easy task, and about 60% of the times I tried it, I had little issue doing it. Unfortunately, the other 40% of the time I found myself blinking hard to rid my eyes of the retina flashes and dying.
On the whole, Octahedron is a tough but enjoyable rhythmic platformer that requires a high level of focus to complete. It’s well worth your $12.99 (it’s currently on sale on the PSN at the time of this review), and completionists will milk even more time out of the game. If you’re pretty good at the game, it won’t take you more than a handful of hours to clear. If you’re like me and die a few times, you’ll probably add an hour or two to the overall total. Still, if platforming and/or indie games is/are your thing, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.