It may well seem like the big budget studios behind the all-action blockbusters are pretty much set in their ways, with over the top cinematics, lifelike visuals and open worlds all ensuring that cash is king, but the console indie scene is full of great ideas. Even though the action platform puzzler has pretty much been done to death, every now and then we see something storm through and take us all by surprise.
Octahedron is one such game.
Created by the one man army of Demimonde, and picked up as part of the Square Enix Collective, Octahedron is a platformer with a bit of a difference. For it is you who makes the platforms and it is you who decides exactly where they should go. And it’s all down to some magical platform-creating shoes.
Set in the strange subterranean world of Veetragoul, chances are that from the very first moment you slap eyes on Octahedron, you’ll wonder what it is all about. Well, aside from being a game that is full of colour, it’s a precision based action title that focuses on verticality. With lovingly handcrafted levels playing host to your ‘experience’ – and believe me, this really is one of those – it’ll be up to you to run and jump your way to victory, ascending and descending levels whilst spawning platforms out of your feet as you do so.
After taking control of a little crystal headed dude, your time with Octahedron will start off slowly. With the first few levels giving you a great insight into the mind of the man behind it, you’ll be allowed plenty of time to get to grips with the controls before the creativeness really kicks in. You won’t be forced to run through set tutorials or the like though, as the start, and any additional mechanics that you need to worry about, are delightfully delivered.
Veetragoul is a strange old world and very little within it actually makes sense. There is hardly a story to hold things together, strange shapes litter the playfields, and you will quickly be left wondering how on earth you’re meant to make your way through 50 devilishly created stages and multiple worlds. It is then left to the brilliant ideas included in this platformer to start taking hold.
Jumping is pretty much par for the course with any platformer and that is the same here, but with a simple press of the right trigger, a platform will appear briefly under your feet, before a hop, skip, and jump moves you closer to the exit point. But staying attached to this platform is the key to your success because as you move, the platform moves with you. With you initially starting with just the one available at any one time, it doesn’t take long for further levels to increase the number available, forgoing the need for you to constantly land on solid ground to regenerate your magical feet. Make it through to even later stages and you’ll find your platforms becoming super powerful weapons that can shoot their way through walls and floors, taking down enemies and allowing you to switch up which type of power you wish to use at any given time. It is here where Octahedron really starts to shine.
The simple control system, the brilliantly precise platforming mechanics and the very clever levels all combine to just keep on delivering the goods; the more you play Octahedron, the more you are pretty much guaranteed that your time with the game will be a good one. But whilst reaching level exits is very much the main focal point, there is a huge amount of replayability found within this clever game. See, scattered around each and every level are lightbulbs that you need to run your platforms through, hidden bits of the octahedron, collectible flowers and more. With every single pick up tracked, and specific amounts opening up secret levels, you’ll find that even when you thought you were done with Octahedron, you’ll still be going back for more.
That’s mostly due to the fact that with the collectibles all found and accounted for, Demimonde have then ensured a bit of a challenge in also tracking exactly how many platforms you have used for each level; a par score for both completion and fully nailing each stage is available. Should you wish to go really deep and attempt to become on a par with the very best Octahedron runners, then a Deus ranking is available for those platforming gods to aspire to. You’ll never feel that anything is unobtainable though either – it all depends on how thorough you wish to take this platformer.
The gameplay is hugely enthralling, but it’s not the only part of the draw of this game. And that’s because we must talk about the sound. You’ll quickly notice that the visuals will burst from the screen – and Octahedron most certainly embraces the full colour spectrum – however it is in fact that soundtrack that really moves things up a notch. A pumping, atmospheric baseline created by Chipzel, and house & trance producers Andre Sobota and Monomirror ramps up at just the right times. They must all be applauded for their contribution to a unique platform puzzler. The fact that the enemies and various level elements that are found frequenting the stages all respond to this music just takes things on to another level, adding another bow to the already full quiver.
I’ve got to admit to having been completely taken in by Octahedron. After a fairly simple start that struggles to really wow, the further you progress, the more unique gameplay ideas will be thrust towards your eyes, with each and every level teasing you in and challenging you to a fairly high degree. It won’t be long before you are then spat at for ‘just one more go’.
There is very little to dislike about this smooth-as-silk psychedelic platformer but like any game, perfection is very hard to come by. That is the case here and it falls just short of greatness. I adore the game, but granted some will complain that the visuals are a bit too much, and there will certainly be times when you’ll be left with a shower of colour splashing so frantically on your screen that you’ll have next to no idea as to what just happened. Just occasionally the platforming creation that is key to the whole experience will let you down too, with the combination of fast paced gameplay and little confidence in really knowing what your platform is going to do, letting things down. The stage navigation through each world is also a little fiddly, however I’m not sure I’d ever feel overly comfortable in knocking something so good for having a rubbish menu system. On the whole, Demimonde have created a bit of a stunner.
A combination of a great price, some brilliantly challenging mechanics, a rather unique premise, a quality visual look and that banging soundtrack pumping away, ensures that Octahedron should be right up there near the top of your wanted list.
The console indie scene is full of clever ideas… and one of the cleverest is Octahedron.