Almost everyone has become a binge-watcher these days, with entire TV series’ available at the press of a button, allowing you to indulge in hours and hours of constant viewing. The folks over at Fantastico Studio have woven this new culture into an action-platformer titled Landflix Odyssey. They’re parodying some of the biggest TV series of recent times along the way, but will the core gaming experience ensure it’s binge-worthy? Or could you end up disappointed, looking for an alternative and switching over in a hurry?
Well, the developers have done a pretty decent job with Landflix Odyssey on Xbox, as it tickles the funny bone and delivers enjoyable gameplay. There’s still quite a bit of room for improvement though, on both fronts.
Meet Larry, a proper lazy git who binges anything on-demand that he can get his grubby fingers to switch on. One day though, the remote control batteries go dead and so, after scrambling around the couch for more, he ends up using extra special ones. These magically transport Larry into the TV and trap him within the Landflix streaming platform. Hence, Larry becomes the leading role in his favourite shows and must acquire a battery from each of them in order to escape the Landflix Odyssey.
It’s a very silly premise, but one that fits well as it’s confounded by the fact you’re presented with five quite obvious themed parodies bearing ridiculous names. There’s Peculiar Stuff (Stranger Things), Elder Thrones (Game of Thrones), Blind Evil (Daredevil), Going Mad (Breaking Bad), and The Standing Zombie (The Walking Dead). While the writing isn’t full of laugh-out-loud humour, you will at least chuckle at the encounters between Larry and the familiar characters such as the titular Blind Evil who resides in Heaven’s Kitchen, or ‘Ice & Berg’ which is a clear spin on Walter White’s alias.
Landflix Odyssey features five different pixel style worlds (known as Seasons) to dip into, with each containing nine episodes costing in-game coins to unlock. Although the later series’ and levels are pricier, it’s a welcome format that allows you to switch up the play by flitting between the different shows as you see fit. Not that the action needs switching up too much, with a refreshing structure in place for each season; consisting of standard platforming affairs alongside special levels possessing a gimmick and a double dose of boss battles.
That being said, the general platforming actually highlights that the mechanics aren’t anywhere near as smooth or on-point as the top drawer titles of this genre – like Super Meat Boy or Celeste. There’s a slowness to the movement, but also a lag after pressing the jump button before Larry takes the leap of faith. While a mere couple of milliseconds at most, it’s quite noticeable when jumping between ledges and trying to perfect the timing to avoid lasers, rabid dogs, or missile-firing cacti. This leads to a lot of health depletions, with some hazards completely disregarding the three strike system, resulting in unnecessary restarts. Luckily, checkpoints are frequent enough to stave off most of the frustration caused.
Jumping isn’t the sole mechanic here, as new quirky abilities are drip fed throughout to ensure every Season feels almost like a different game altogether. Initially, it’s just a foul burp used to disorient gun-wielding enemies, but then you’ll receive a sword for dealing with White Walker style threats and a nifty throwing stick to scale buildings in Heaven’s Kitchen. Getting a multi-functional crossbow, seeing you fire arrows to do harm to the undead and also use the arrows as stepping stones where the jump height just isn’t enough, is the pinnacle. The ‘Going Mad’ slowdown ability doesn’t work quite as well however, having little effect overall and generally providing less fun because there’s more of an emphasis on jumping at precise moments.
The gimmick levels are well spread out and come in at the ideal time – when you’re getting a little tired of straightforward platforming. These range from pure stealth and a helicopter chase, to demolishing a camper van and surviving a dangerous ride in a lift. Climbing up the infamous northern Wall is especially memorable; it’s a real blast as you’re traveling vertically in a hurry due to a wave of creatures closing in from the bottom of the screen. And then there’s the dragon level… but I won’t spoil the fun by sharing too much about it.
In regards to the boss encounters, I’m a bit torn as to whether they’re really enjoyable, or not. On one hand, the ripoff characters such as KingPink, The Demodoctor, and The Undead King are great choices that make sense as baddies for their respective Seasons. But on the other hand, they aren’t satisfying to overcome because the solutions are obvious and failure usually occurs as a result of a delayed jump. Therefore, the completion simply brings relief instead of a triumphant feeling of accomplishment.
One of Landflix Odyssey’s strongest aspects is replayability, which arises through the desire to collect all 100 coins scattered throughout the levels, as well as blue tickets. The latter are usually hidden in secret areas and you’re encouraged to gather them in order to purchase special bonus levels – one for each Season. Completionists will certainly appreciate the option to go back at any point to clean up anything that’s been missed.
In conclusion, Landflix Odyssey on Xbox is a funny old game. While I do mean that in the sense that it will make you laugh occasionally, I also intend it in the way it has all the tools to be a brilliant platformer, but fails to reach the upper echelons of its genre. Parodying the hottest TV shows of the last decade is genius and they’ve mocked them fairly well. The level variety is impressive and helps longevity by incorporating some interesting ideas alongside the differing abilities. Sadly, the platforming mechanics, especially the jumping, aren’t responsive enough and that hinders the enjoyment a bit. The nifty boss appearances are lacking in natural difficulty, coming across as being too easy.
Despite the handful of drawbacks, Landflix Odyssey is still a pretty fun journey into the realm of streaming services and it’s worth a punt if you’re interested in any of the shows parodied!