It seems like I’ve played a lot of games in the last few months where the main protagonist has been a robot. Generally speaking, they’ve been good experiences and I feel like I’ve bonded with my metal brothers and sisters, finally understanding their plight in this crazy mixed up world of ours.
So with Shiny I was pleased to find out I was once again playing as another robot, in a world of robots. But will it adhere to the high standards I now expect? Or will it crash and burn like my robotic vacuum cleaner did last night?
Shiny is about a hero robot with a kind heart and a lot of love for his fellow kind. Left to fend for itself after mankind abandoned the doomed planet Aurora, robot Kramer 227 must find a way to harvest energy and rescue his robotic friends before Aurora crashes into its sun. In his journey, Kramer will adventure through the 20 levels of the planet itself and overcome challenging obstacles, all while trying to conserve his limited life energy to power himself and his friends on their way to safety. Your task in each stage is to rescue as many robots as you can (up to four per level), and get to the end safely.
Gameplay wise and things are a breeze as you jump and power-up your way around. The power-ups you will utilise include a shield, a jetpack and a temperature regulator that will help you deal with the hottest of levels. As you progress through each stage your energy level slowly depletes and if you get hit by something, this gets even lower. The only way you can get more is by devouring batteries that are placed throughout your journey. You also have checkpoints that can restore energy and interestingly there is a limited use on each one, before you are left needing to restart the whole level again. There are a couple of nice bits of level design and decent contraptions to help make Shiny stand out from the crowd, but for the most part, it’s nothing you haven’t experienced before in a platformer. But how does it play?
Well there are two major issues for me and the first is with the framerate. From the opening cut scene I have been subjected to juddering, freezing and basic buggy moments that almost made the whole thing unwatchable. In the game itself there are definitely less of these framerate issues, but every now and then one will hit at the most disastrous moment, with the screen becoming buggy and distorted.
The next flaw that drops itself onto proceedings is with regards the actual jumping mechanic itself – something which just doesn’t feel natural or free flowing enough. I know I’m controlling a big hunk of metal, but there’s a clunky direction to the movement that refuses to get better with time. This in itself caused a lot of shouting.
On the positive side, the world Shiny is trying to present is original and unique. I love the checkpoint system, which adds an extra dimension of fear to the proceedings, especially when you see the life countdown clock going down. Having to find all the robots is a dream for the completionist nerds around the gaming world, and it’s a load of fun. There are some brilliantly designed levels, coupled with some level designs that feel half finished or just devoid of ideas.
And I think that’s the main problem with Shiny – it promises so much, but it doesn’t quite feel finished and the bugs are just plain annoying. I love the wordless story and the universe that has been created, but even that feels incomplete in its execution.
Shiny comes our way via the Unreal Engine 4, but there are only a couple of moments when that becomes really evident, and then it is just in some of the latter level backdrops. The characters’ robot designs are lovely and the colour palette used is nice, but some of the levels are just a bit too generic in their looks. That is a shame as the potential is clearly there. The sound score used is mainly a beautiful piece of piano and works very well underneath the action, with some nice dramatic flourishes in the cut scenes.
Overall and I have been left confused with Shiny. I love a lot of what it has to offer, and it certainly comes with a plentiful supply of achievements, but I feel totally let down with the problems found in the mechanics and framerates. Looking past those and it’s clear there’s an excellent game inside, and it would be interesting to check it again once all the problems have been ironed out. The price is excellent though and it might be worth a punt if you are a die-hard platform fan who likes a good old-fashioned robot who comes with a heart of gold.