As a rule, some platformers can be hard. Very hard. And that’s not helped by the fact that as you get older, your reflexes, gaming instincts and quick decision-making gets worse. When you were young a colourful platformer was something you could finish in a day, with a smile on your face and your other eye watching a cartoon. Now as the autumn days grow closer, a new platformer sends shivers of fear all the way down to the bottom of my gaming soul. Linn: Path of Orchards is a beautiful new platformer that hopes to stop me from being scared, instead awakening my latent skillsets. How well does it do?
Linn: Path of Orchards is a mixture of platformer, physics-bender, and endless runner all combined into one nice package. You play the role of Aban – a sort of keeper or guardian of nature. We meet Aban sitting casually, watching the world go by on a ledge, before being called to rescue the Tree of Light from danger. This involves traveling through the sky temple, across various levels and platforms to accomplish your mission. The story and narrative aren’t that huge, but it’s all told visually, which is fantastic because the world you spend time in is a fantastical and beautiful place.
Throughout Linn you are presented with various levels which consist of several platforms and some orbs to collect, plus a special artifact to pick up for those hardcore, more nimble-fingered platformers out there. The main goal though is to get to the exit – a little doorway on the other side of a variety of obstacles. Simple, yes? No, very much not.
You see once you start Linn: Path of Orchards it fast moves into endless runner territory as Aban refuses to stop running for anything or anyone. What that means is that when you set off you can jump in the area and double jump if needed. You also have the ability to suddenly change direction at any time, utilising a special dash move to speed Aban towards safety. It’s just that he won’t stop until his goal is reached.
What makes this game very different from the norm is that very early on the platforms and the world will start to spin around, defying gravity. Some platforms will start to swing like a pendulum, whilst others will flip in place. This means you are left to use your range of skills on offer, combining them to gather up all the orbs and complete the level.
These types of games can easily frustrate, but for me, they are pretty ideal. That’s not because I’m particularly good at them, but because each stage is delivered in a quick burst, delivering short term madness that is succeeded by either triumph, or failure. Here, the difficulty curve rises quickly – very steeply in fact – and so you have to be prepared for that. Trial and error is key too as during latter, trickier levels you will be left to try and work out the complex routes through the level. If you want to get all the orbs and the special artifact before leaving a perfect exit then you will certainly have to be at the top of your game.
With each stage you are presented with objectives that roll around the usual gaming lines – “get all the orbs” or “complete a level in a certain time”. When you do find success, the number of objectives add up to unlock extra levels and chapters. The problem for me is I hate redoing things, and the whole repetition required in “unlocking” content always makes me shudder. But I think that opinion is very much a personal pet hate and others will be fine with this challenge. Anyways, there are a substantial 56 levels on show over 4 chapters and that is more than enough to ensure Linn never gets boring.
Visually the game has a beautiful aesthetic to it, one that reminded me a lot of the classic Monument Valley. It has a very relaxed feel to it and always makes you feel like you’re spending time in a pleasant place, even taking into account the madcap gaming on show. The soundtrack is a stunning smooth piece of liquid gold on the ears too – it could easily be used as a meditation track if you want.
Linn: Path of Orchards on Xbox One feels very unique, is scarily stunning to look at and is a cracking little title to just pick up and play. I don’t like having to repeat levels to unlock new stages, I worry that the difficulty spike is quite steep, and the hectic gameplay might put some off. But the highlights outweigh the cons, especially if you decide to take the low asking price into account too. This is great value for money and well worth taking a gamble on, so if you want a challenge and are looking to play something beautiful and unique then Linn: Path of Orchards is a good spend of your time.