You can’t expect any more from a Ratalaika Games budget platformer. Not only did we complete Slime’s Journey in one sitting, but we stayed way beyond the point we got 1000G. We mopped up every last room, every last collectible, and killed everything that stood in our way. Our plate was clean.
That doesn’t happen often. In the world of reviewing these games, it’s exceptionally rare, in fact. By the time we’ve crossed the game’s finishing line, we normally feel like we’re done. These games aren’t overflowing with invention, and you tend to understand everything that it has to offer at an early stage. But not Slime’s Journey. We completed the game, realised that our completion percentage was at 96%, and rubbed our hands with glee. 4% to go, then.
It helps that Slime’s Journey is a brand of game that we wish we had more of. It’s a platformer in the vein of the Shantae series: a sprawling map of platforming levels (accessed from the pause menu, with the rooms as boxes, and tempting broken paths leading from a few of them), and you can simply head into a direction and see what’s there. You could call it a Metroidvania, but that implies a complexity of upgrading and narrative that Slime’s Journey doesn’t have, and doesn’t really care to have. It’s just an explorative platformer, and that’s our jam.
You play a slime that emerges from an egg (?) moments after Mama Slime and Papa Slime have been kidnapped by a masked shaman as ingredients for his next potion. We’ve played enough wizards and alchemists in games to know that this is a very possible reality. So, you’re hitting the road with vengeance in your slimy heart.
At the start of the game, your little slime is a surprisingly adept war machine. They can only perform a dinky jump, sure, but they have an arcing projectile that takes out enemies with a couple of hits, and – best of all – they can luzz bombs in a more looping arc that obliterates everything in one hit.
The bombs are finite, so you’re always looking to replenish the stocks. But the focus on projectiles rather than hand-to-hand or bottom-bouncing is neatly refreshing. Much of the early game is spent finding the right vantage point and then raining death onto snails. Which is precisely as much fun as it sounds.
The monsters begin to develop counter-measures, and the easy beginnings at least start to offer some challenge. Flying beasties swoop at you. Wolves and snakes charge, rather than follow a prescribed patrol route. Spiders dangle in your face and skulls chuck fireballs out of their maw in the cardinal directions. The breadth of enemies and obstacles in Slime’s Journey is pleasantly wide.
But nae worry, as Slime’s Journey offers you counter-measures to their counter-measures. You come across wizards who seem to be on your side (Slime’s Journey isn’t completely anti-wizard), and they are more than happy to sell you potions that increase your health for one-hundred gems (gained from out-of-the-way chests), or give you stuff for free, including increased fire-rate, split-projectiles and double-jumps. By the end, we were absolutely untouchable, never taking our fingers off the fire-button as we carved through snails like we were on a ride-on mower.
The level design is lovely, and while it could have been more difficult – Slime’s Journey never quite tests as much as it could, or probably should, have – it’s exquisitely laid out. You might worry that you’re losing track of where you’re going, that you’re not heading in the direction that the designers want. But then you find a new ability and then loop back to where the new ability can be used in the levels you bypassed, and you nod at the genius of it all. Appropriately for a game featuring slimes, there’s no friction here at all.
Almost to a fault, actually. Slime’s Journey’s biggest flaw (outside of its easiness, and the fact that we wanted to spend double the two hours playing it), is its bosses. There are only a few of them, but Slime’s Journey doesn’t know what to do with them. It’s the bombs’ fault, you see. They are supremely powerful but limited, but if you have more than a dozen when you enter a boss fight then, well, the boss can be killed in seconds. These villains didn’t have time to speechify before we were chucking bombs their way, sending them to the morgue in three seconds flat. And you will do exactly the same.
But turn off your critical faculties and play for the sheer joy of the controls, the free-flowing levels, and the security of brilliant world design, and you will have a gleeful couple of hours. They might all happen in the same play session, if you’re anything like us. We adored Slime’s Journey because it was just pure platforming craft, delivered in the simplest of manners. For £4.99, it’d be greedy to ask for anything more.
You can buy Slime’s Journey from the Xbox Store