Sometimes a game surprises us by not doing more than what we expected, instead delivering on a simple premise which doesn’t necessarily need complicating. This is the case for Arcade Distillery’s Mecho Tales: a simple 2D action platformer which doesn’t do anything new, but does what it does do well. If you’re looking for a satisfying action platformer to fill a couple of hours of your time, then look no further.
Mecho Tales begins by attempting to give some context behind the protagonists’ motivations, but a lack of consistent storytelling and an abrupt and confusing conclusion means that any attempt of story in Mecho Tales is wasted. That being said, the enemy and character design is interesting enough that you will be engaged through its 16 levels as you defeat various challenging bosses and tough but achievable platforming pieces.
You set out on a quest to defeat some bad machines, because of war I guess, and you get the opportunity to switch protagonist halfway through the game with no warning or explanation; something which doesn’t help with the game’s attempt at storytelling. Though the gameplay is solid enough – you’ll have fun for the couple of hours you’ll spend playing through this short but sweet experience. Your character can feel a little rigid from time to time though, especially when you’re trying to make tight jumps in areas full of spikes and flaming enemies. Yet for the most part, Mecho Tales feels responsive and easy to learn.
The art style is unique, though it is in the same vein as Arcade Distillery’s other titles. That isn’t to say that the visual look isn’t effective nor noticeable here, but the backgrounds of some of the levels can be distracting because of the number of colourful layers that sometimes look very similar to the enemies you’ll be facing. Unable to clearly see your enemy can be frustrating, especially if you die and have to start from a previous checkpoint or at the start of the level, which can be far enough away to put you off having another attempt.
Most second levels will include a boss encounter, with foes who are challenging but, if you take the time to remember their attack patterns and learn how to dodge their moves, are fairly rewarding when defeated. Moreover, in Mecho Tales you will be left to collect cogs throughout each level (for which there is no live counter which hinders your efforts slightly), which you can then use to buy new robotic drones to help your progress. The more expensive drones do feel like they make a difference with your combat encounters, so it is certainly well worth the pain as you go out of your way to collect these cogs.
It’s not all rosy though and I have hit a few bugs and glitches whilst playing through Mecho Tales; such as falling through the map, the game freezing on a couple of occasions, and an achievement not popping for defeating a particular boss. Aside from this glitch the achievement list is very good though, rewarding the player for progressing through the game but also providing completionist points for easily attainable milestones such as buying all of the drones available in the shop.
I expected Mecho Tales on Xbox One to be a bad take on a good formula, but it proved me wrong. Instead, it provided a fun couple of hours of an unimpactful yet joyous action platformer which should attract anybody looking for a unique art style. It is an indie game which has the self-awareness to know what to accomplish from a gameplay point of view, but not perhaps from a storytelling perspective.