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Rebel Transmute Review

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Coming from Evan Tor Games and JanduSoft is yet another entry into the retro styled Metroidvania genre. Rebel Transmute promises to be a “sprawling 2 D action-exploration epic”, much like all the others found in the genre. But can this do anything to lift itself above the sea of other similar titles, or is it swept away in the flood?

Well, there’s only one way to find out, so come with me to the future and a distant galaxy…

Rebel Transmute review 1
Good old retro gaming

Presentation of the game is straight out of the retro platformer playbook, as you might expect. In fact, when my son was watching me play, he commented that it looked a lot like an older Metroid game; that comparison is more than fair as about the only thing our hero can’t do that Samus can is curl into a ball! 

The map is pretty open right from the beginning, and the levels themselves do have their own identity. This makes the inevitable time spent walking through the same old bits again and again, all as you attempt to get back to where you need to be, slightly less tedious than it sounds. However, Rebel Transmute is pretty tedious. The levels, enemies and bosses look okay, I guess, with nothing massively outstanding about them. It isn’t going to live on in your memory after playing, that’s for damn sure. 

Sound wise, the game works, with the usual “pew pew” of the gun and the tunes tinkling away in the background not being too bad. Again, there is nothing particularly memorable, but it does a reasonable job at depicting what is happening. 

There is a bit of a story though. We play as a girl named Moon Mikono, out looking for our mother, Wendy, who seems to have perished in some kind of disaster at the lab where she worked. Obviously, as soon as we can, we jump in a spaceship and go looking, but as luck would have it, we end up crashing in the same location that our mother vanished. What else is there to do but go and look for her, trusting our basic blaster and ability to jump? Well, that’s how we begin, anyway…

Rebel Transmute review 2
Play to make progress

But how does Rebel Transmute play? Well, there’s a mixture of the good, the bad and the merely indifferent. Starting with the good things, this is a classic Metroidvania game (that seems to also owe a debt to Hollow Knight). You know what that means by now – in our weedy state when we first start, we can’t even keep out of our own way, and the pistol we have has limited range. As long as the foes are about to bite your bunions you can shoot them, but anything further away will give you issues. 

Being a Metroidvania, it’s all about progress and unlocking new abilities that will allow us to get to new places. That jump too far? Wait until you find the jetpack booster dash thing. For every obstacle, there is a way around it, but the issue with Rebel Transmute is remembering where you haven’t been yet. The map screen is largely useless, as while it does show the outline of the world, things like impassable doors, or obstacles that you need to get past are not shown. Instead you are left to wander the world for what seems like ages, This backtracking really does get tedious, sucking a lot of the pace and fun out of the game. 

Another issue is the lack of instructions in regards the abilities you pick up – while I can see that a lack of handholding was a deliberate decision on the part of the developer, it does leave you floundering around, trying out various augments to see which one will allow you to make some progress. While you can find some cool moves doing this, if they were signposted a little I can’t help feel it would help. 

Rebel Transmute review 3
The map screen – largely useless

There’s more though and another design feature I hate is the Dark Souls-like dropping of health cores that happens when you die. At the start of the game, you have so little health that losing a third of it on dying is almost guaranteed to result in death as you try to get it back – and while you can pay a fine to recover the lost cores, this again isn’t flagged up as an option. If you die before recovering said core then you lose half of your in-game currency anyway. 

And so what we have in Rebel Transmute is a competent Metroidvania type game that is let down by some bad design decisions. The sheer amount of backtracking is really annoying, the death penalty sucks, and the map is largely useless – but apart from that, Rebel Transmute is okay. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good size map
  • New abilities can be fun, once you figure out how to use them
Cons:
  • Too much backtracking
  • Rubbish map navigation
  • Death penalty cripples the early game
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, JanduSoft
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC, Switch
  • Release date and price - 14 March 2024 | £16.74

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Kenny
Kenny
7 days ago

Garbage game
Garbage dev
Waste of money

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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good size map</li> <li>New abilities can be fun, once you figure out how to use them</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Too much backtracking</li> <li>Rubbish map navigation</li> <li>Death penalty cripples the early game</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, JanduSoft</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC, Switch <li>Release date and price - 14 March 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Rebel Transmute Review
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