There will always be a market for tough-as-nails platforming. Games where absolute precision, mastery of the controls and split-second decisions are necessary for success. And now we have another one. Mastho is Together promises to deliver a challenge similar to genre staples like Super Meat Boy. It even has its own cuboid hero. This time though, we’ll be playing as a sugar-free marshmallow as they look to overcome a litany of spikes and bullets and everything in between.
Who he is, what his purpose is, or why he happens to be a sugar-free marshmallow rather than a standard one is never made clear, but no matter. Gameplay comes first with this one, and on that Mastho is Together absolutely delivers. This is the challenging game it was advertised to be. Each level puts up a fight, and you’ll need to learn to use and combine every move in your arsenal to overcome the obstacles in your path.
You will die. A lot. Nevertheless, you’ll find yourself making steady progress and learning from each death. It also helps that there’s a generous checkpoint system, and you won’t need to clear entire levels in one go.
There are forty levels, and Mastho is Together does well at keeping its gameplay fresh from start to finish. Every five levels, a new mechanic is introduced, and these range from bullets and spikes to disappearing platforms and launchpads. In isolation, these are relatively straightforward to deal with. Together, they combine really well to create levels that demand precision and persistence.
As is to be expected with almost anything involving Ratalaika Games, you won’t need to see all forty stages to earn every achievement. In fact, you’ll only need to complete the first twelve for the full 1000. It’s not as easy as it sounds given the nature of the game, but any achievement hunter should still expect to be finished within thirty minutes or so.
A precision platformer needs to be backed by tight controls for it to succeed. Fortunately, Mastho is Together has these too. There are only a few moves to learn, but you’ll be able to chain them together with ease to overcome the obstacles strewn across each level. The game really puts the ball in your court and challenges you to beat it. You can’t blame the controls for all those deaths.
The only thing that needs to be tightened are the hitboxes. I found these to be inconsistent at times. You only need to graze a bullet for it to kill you, but you can seemingly touch the edges of some spikes and launchpads without recourse. It seems odd to be complaining about not taking more deaths, but for a precision platformer, I feel the hitboxes need to be watertight.
It’s perhaps natural that a game that promises a super-hard challenge would put that at the forefront, but it would have been nice to have even a little personality imbued into the overall presentation. Mastho is Together is advertised as minimalist. The word I’d use is bland. Our hero is a white rectangle; the world he occupies a mess of grey walls and obstacles. Even the odd dashes of colours – the red spikes, the green launchpads and the blue diamonds that mark the end of a level – appear washed out and fail to really pop. At least the game’s soundtrack is solid; it’s calming and gentle pace a nice juxtaposition to the chaos unfolding on screen.
There’s also a complete lack of replayability. Once you’ve cleared all forty levels (or twelve, if you are only in it for the Gamerscore), there’s really nothing compelling you from giving the game a second look. There’s no timer, no leaderboards and no collectibles. There isn’t even a death counter. These are simple additions that could have gone at least some of the way to providing players with more bang for their buck, and it’s a shame they aren’t included.
Mastho is Together has all the hallmarks of a great precision platformer. Consistently challenging gameplay, solid level design and tight controls make for a game where your reactions and patience will be thoroughly tested from start to finish. Ultimately though, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and it does absolutely nothing to stand out from the crowd. In fact, there are already other titles on the market that execute the concept better. Mastho is Together is good for a few hours or as an introduction to the precision platformer genre, but if you’re looking for a more fleshed-out experience, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
Mastho is Together is available from the Xbox Store