No matter your favourite genre, there are always a number of noticeable games. One particular platformer that stood out for me was Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, a game in which you start off as a slave in a meat factory before being forced to escape after overhearing the plan of the evil boss. It’s a classic storyline and one which immediately grabbed my attention. It seems Splashteam, the developers of Splasher, enjoyed it too as their game starts off with a great homage to Abe. But does it share the same level of quality as one of platforming’s greatest games, or are the early nods simply nothing more than wishful thinking?
The game follows the story of a ‘Splasher’, one of the many workers of Inkorp, a paint production factory. Whilst on one of his shifts, he sets eyes on an experiment being performed by Docteur, the evil villain in charge of the factory, and accidentally sees the ongoing experiments being performed on his fellow Splashers. After being noticed and managing to make a narrow escape, he decides to free the rest of his fellow workers from their horrible fate, in a daring rescue mission that sees you venture through the entire complex of Inkorp.
The gameplay in Splasher is a rather simplistic affair, with everything you need to complete a level tied to running, jumping and the spraying of your water/paint shooting hybrid gun. There are twenty-two levels in total for players to master in Splasher, all of which are accessible from the Inkorp lobby.
To beat the many levels of the game, it takes nothing more than simply reaching the end – and is very much like your typical Mario game in that respect. With no lives to be worrying about and a rather generous checkpoint system in place, reaching the conclusion isn’t something you’ll find overly challenging, however if that’s all you’re here for then you won’t find the real joy of the game. You see, the joy comes from saving each and every last Splasher.
In each level there are seven Splashers to be saved, six of which are located in awkward areas and will require some light thinking, and a little skill, if you are to reach them all. The seventh is locked away at the end of each stage, and requires you to deposit 700 of the ‘Golden-Ink’ in order to unlock his cage and set him free. Golden-Ink is found throughout each level and is just one of the many important substances that play a part in the game. It can be collected by washing it off certain walls and other surfaces, by activating various level styled cogs that are used to move platforms, or by killing the multiple enemies which are strewn throughout the level. Getting 700 Golden-Ink isn’t quite as hard as I expected, but it does require you to collect almost every drop, with only a little over that amount available throughout each stage.
Early levels provide fairly basic challenges, most of which are there purely to introduce you to the mechanics of Splasher and how things work in general. They do a great job of bringing new substances into play, some of which you acquire through canisters for your gun, such as water and sticky-ink. Every substance has a purpose. Water is used to clear sticky-ink from surfaces, as well as attacking certain enemies, whilst the sticky-ink itself allows you to walk on surfaces that would otherwise be inaccessible. As you progress further, other substances such as a thick, yellow gloop arrives to give off a bounce much like a trampoline, allowing you to propel to unreachable heights and distances. There is also a final addition – a green and hazardous goo – that will kill off your Splasher on contact.
It’s easy to spot when you’re about to get a new mechanic as the door which you use to access your next level will contain some kind of preview of what’s coming – before you get to experience it in level. It’s a a needless touch, but a quirky and unique one nevertheless.
Later levels bring a little more challenge with lasers introduced and even a dangerous goo dropping into action. In one level this is found raising up through the level, forcing you to outrun it whilst navigating through the various enemies and platforms to survive. It’s a rather enjoyable task and a fine example of the variety and difference found throughout the stages in Splasher – and that’s despite the rather similar appearance of each.
That’s not a dig at the design of Splasher though, as the cartoon style visuals are actually rather fabulous to look at, bringing some unique and quirky looking creations which are well detailed and incredibly colourful.
The controls are another feature that must join the list of positives, and in a game in which the slightest movement can be the difference between making a platform and landing on a saw blade, it’s fair to say the guys over at Splashteam have nailed that too. Smooth and fluid controls throughout are all tied to a few simple button presses, and this makes for an easily accessible platformer for all ages and skill types.
That’s not all though, and anyone looking for something some other game modes to playthrough will happy to hear of the Time Attack mode and the Speedrun options.
Time Attack is quite simply what you would expect and is accessible from the off with a simple press of LB or RB whilst within the Inkorp level select lobby. This takes away the task of rescuing the other Splashers and instead sets you off with the goal of reaching the end of the level in the fastest time possible. Gold, silver and bronze par times have been pre-set for each.
Speedrun mode on the other hand contains two options. The first is the Selfish Speedrun, one which tasks you with finishing the entire game in one run as fast as you can, with no Splashers to rescue or Golden-Drops to collect. Standard Speedrun however is only unlocked after saving all 154 Splashers throughout the game and leaves Splashers and Golden-Drops in for the ultimate Speedrun attempt. If you want a challenge, this is it.
Overall though and Splasher is generally a great game that comes with fantastic visuals, smooth and fluid controls, addictive gameplay and plenty of variety. It is certainly one of the better platformers to arrive on Xbox One this year and if you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you should be looking to add to your collection.