First off, it’s worth mentioning that Georifters was actually released for Xbox back in May of this year (which feels like a different century now). However, the game has recently had a winter update taking into account player feedback along the way. A fair few new features have been added, and it’s this newest version that I have been playing for this review.
Georifters is a puzzle platforming game, and the main way to play is adventure mode which you can tackle alone or cooperatively. You have to manipulate the world around you to complete each level. Only certain blocks can be moved, but you can push and pull them around the stage, completely changing the layout of levels themselves. You can also jump, and reset all the blocks you have moved when needed in order to reach the exit. A bit further into the game, you’ll also unlock the ability to use throwing stars to take down enemies.
This is where the puzzle element comes in. In some levels you have to collect a certain amount of crystals as you play in order to unlock the exit portal. Others will require you to do different things to unlock the exit portal, such as defeat a certain amount of enemies. You can choose to use the blocks to do this by moving them when a critter is near them, and this will squash them instantly. If you wish to collect all the crystals, including the elusive and most valuable gold encased ones, you’ll have to put your thinking cap on.
Some levels are played against the clock, in time attack mode. Here you have to balance reaching the exit with collecting crystals, as it’s a real challenge grabbing them all in time.
In Georifters you have lives, and there are hazards and enemies that will try and take them from you. Some will take a life instantly, such as red blocks, but others will cause you to lose a heart instead. And if you lose all your hearts? You guessed it. That’s a life gone.
If you lose all your lives, you’ll need to restart the level. Each level is made up of 10 stages, so dying does have consequences. However, when you start over you’ll get fifteen lives to keep you going, which is more than generous.
You’ll earn a ranking at the end of each level. The better the ranking, the more points you will earn. These can be used to buy cards and stickers which buff your characters. For example, you can increase movement speed and jump height. They can also be used to purchase extra lives between levels, if you are running low. Completing levels also unlocks new character costumes, which jazz things up a little.
You’ll travel to different lands in Georifters, each with their own distinct theme and daft name. Not only this, but you’ll be playing as different Georifters, each with slight variations to their abilities. These include splitting blocks which pushes them outwards to different sides, and spinning walls on their axis. It’s still mainly a matter of moving blocks, but just changing your approach to the puzzling.
There’s a pretty basic story in Georifters, driven by character dialogue, and the game has a wacky sense of humour. It’s funny in parts, and just plain odd in others (the buttfly for example, which is literally described as a butt and a fly). Also, the Chief’s face is genuinely disturbing. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
Attempting to punch blocks to push them was one frustration I had early on, and was especially awkward when having to jump to reach them. There is a delay between hitting the RB and your Georifter punching, meaning they either move too early or too late, ultimately failing to make contact with the block. It’s unnecessarily difficult to pull off, and takes a bit of getting used to.
Another slight annoyance is that your Georifter’s abilities are limited by a battery, which needs a few seconds to recharge. As you need to move blocks so often, it depletes the battery pretty quickly, and and a result this feels like another unnecessary annoyance. It adds nothing to the gameplay, holding no practical function whatsoever. It only really makes sense during the time attack levels, where it adds more pressure as the clock runs down.
Georifters brings local multiplayer to the party, but sadly no online functionality is present. However, there are a fair few modes to choose from including battle race, match challenge and match arena. All are a fairly fun, if brief, distraction from the main game.
Overall there isn’t a huge amount of challenge in Georifters on Xbox – it’s a fairly easy ride. It does get more difficult, but this only provides moments that are challenging instead of a smooth difficulty curve. What doesn’t help is that you don’t need to collect all the crystals to reach the exit, or kill all the enemies; in fact it’s just one or two a lot of the time. This detracts somewhat from the difficulty, and as a result the game feels rather easier than it ought to have been.
Georifters is fun for a time, and packs in plenty of levels. However, the gameplay shows its hand early on, and struggles to develop from there. It throws in some new bits and bobs as you play, but soon it becomes quite repetitive, and the levels start to feel like a bit of a grind. Rather ironically, it didn’t really grab me, especially when grabbing things is a core part of the game.