Friday, April 8, 2016

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep59: Endorlight

Dash to the exit in this platformer with random levels!

Endorlight is labeled as a roguelike platformer that some have likened to Spelunky. While I haven't played Spelunky, a glance at its store page on Steam shows that it's rather popular and enjoyable. I'm not certain I can say the same for Endorlight.

In this title, you're attempting to find the exit on the current level. You have a health meter and just one life, so be careful! Each level is randomly generated, making the goal of reaching the exit an actual search... though it's a safe bet to keep heading down, as the exit seems to always generate on the bottom area of the level.

Before I continue, I should state that as I write this, Endorlight is in Early Access and is by no means finished. Much of what I have to say is based on its current build, which may change later on.

Firstly, I like the idea of a roguelike platformer. I'm a fan of both genres, and combining them sounds pretty cool. Some of the basics I would expect in such a title are present here, such as random levels and challenging jumps... but that's about it. Past the random level generation and the single life, there's currently nothing else from the roguelike genre added. I was hoping for a way to improve your character, (either by items directly found as treasure or some form of gold and/or experience to obtain better jumping, speed, damage, etc.) and was woefully disappointed.

On top of that, I came to the realization that fighting monsters and opening containers were mostly bad ideas. Several mobs and some treasure containers explode, which is very rarely useful for opening up passages and very commonly an easy way to get damaged and/or die. Combined with the utter uselessness of treasure (other than a high score tally of sorts), there's no incentive to fight or open the loot boxes. My third run got me farther (and in less time) once I switched to the "avoid everything and run for the exit" strategy.

While random generation keeps the level exploration fresh, the game itself gets boring pretty fast due to lack of variety in mobs and treasure. As I already mentioned, treasure is essentially a numeric value (that has no use early on, if at all) with no chance to get different weapons or other useful items. There are potions and heart containers scattered about, but those are out in the open, not hidden in chests. Mobs are similarly quite bland - the majority of them walk back and forth on whatever platform they happen to be on, while a couple of them can jump. None of them had attacks (or defenses) other than colliding with your character and sometimes being able to explode.

I hate to complain even more, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other miscellaneous issues I have with the game. The whip has seemingly no use (at least in the early levels), so why does it exist? Collision detection is dodgy - if you're too close to something, you can't hit it. That would be fine if there was room to actually back up, but far too often the platforms are only 1 space wide giving you no room to do so. Finally, your character is prone to turn the opposite direction for no reason, particularly when/after jumping. This compounds the previous complaint - if you attempt jump-attacking to fight or break open a box, you'll usually attack the opposite direction you were facing.

As it stands, Endorlight somehow manages to combine two of my favorite genres to form a bland, disappointing mess. Unless things change, I'll probably think of Endorlight as a game chock full of wasted potential.

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