Just for a change, there is another retro-styled platformer coming down the tracks. I know, there seem to have been hardly any in the last month or so, but this one looks a little bit different.
Coming from a single developer by the name of Rafael Estrada, also known as Super8bitRafa, and published by Ternox, the game is called Unichrome: A 1-bit Unicorn Adventure. And that title pretty much tells you all you need to know about the game, doesn’t it?
So, let’s go to a world of unicorns and mayhem and see what is going on.
The presentation of the game is pretty much described in the title, but I’ll have to try and flesh it out a bit. We do have minimum word counts on our reviews, believe it or not. It sees us playing as a very small, very pixelated unicorn, with a rainbow mane and an interesting line in firearms. The world is presented as a series of side scrolling levels, with very basic graphics and very basic enemies in place. It’s up to us to carry on through and reach the end.
It is hard to describe just how basic Unichrome looks, so I suggest you have a look at the screenshots to see what I’m on about.
Sound-wise and this is a game of two halves. The actual gunfire and enemies dying sound good, but the voice overs for the main characters are absolutely awful. The woman who does the voice for our unicorn sounds like she is reading from a Chinese takeaway menu, the bosses have a bit of a chat before you fight, yet sound really bored, and all in all the voice work is very poor indeed. Hearing your unicorn screaming “oh no, I died” will soon have you wanting to block your ears… or indeed pull them clear off.
In terms of the story and Unichrome: A 1-bit Unicorn Adventure gets a bit better here? We, and the rest of the unicorns, were slumbering in a secret facility before somehow being released along with the rest of the creatures that were in there (including creatures like griffins and so on).
We appear to be a good unicorn, but – as you’d suspect – the rest of the creatures are bad, their leader sucking all the colour out of the world. She then allocates a colour to each of her hench creatures, and so the scene is set: go through each boss’s world, give them a good kicking, and add colour back into the world.
Whilst the presentation isn’t amazing and the story is pretty generic, things can be forgotten if the gameplay is good. It’s here where Unichrome picks up.
What we have is a basic, run n’ gun, side-scrolling platformer. Your job , as you make your way through the levels, is to stay alive, and make the minions of the bad guys not alive any more. This will involve some precision jumping, many shootings, and as you progress through the game, the chance to gain new abilities. These take the form of not only new weapons, but also bombs to throw about or, my personal favourite, a grappling horn that will allow you to swing over gaps.
While we are talking about weapons, these are found by wandering about the levels, but they do have limited ammo. Luckily, there is plenty of extra ammo dotted about, and your starting pistol has infinite firing options, so if you are anything like me you’ll end up saving the big guns for the bosses and kill the run of the mill enemies with the pistol.
Exploring will also lead you to rewards, as there are a number of unicorn shoes to pick up; traded in for various rewards. There are coins to collect on each level too. Weirdly, this is one of the things that your success in Unichrome: A 1-bit Unicorn Adventure is judged by, so collect as many as you can. Coins can be spent at a shop run by a raccoon, happily letting you spend your ill gotten gains.
An impression of the gameplay would be as follows: fun gunplay, but very annoying and imprecise platforming.
But the same issue affects our little unicorn as the protagonist in the recently reviewed Omegabot, namely that when you land, there is a tiny slide that then plays out. When you are trying to jump to tiny gaps in a sea of spikes, this little slide will lead to more repetitions of “Oh no, I died” and so on. You can learn to adapt, but even now I don’t have faith in the controls.
Other than this (admittedly large) issue, the rest of the game is very much the definition of fine. The shooting is okay, the non-precision platforming is similar, and the extra abilities come in handy. Basically, if you think you’ll like Unichrome: A 1-bit Unicorn Adventure, you probably will. But there is nothing new or ground-breaking on offer.
Unichrome: A 1-bit Unicorn Adventure is on the Xbox Store
- Good gunplay
- Very basic graphics do have a certain style
- Jumping precision is off
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Ternox
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 16 September 2022
- Launch price from - £12.49