Octahedron Review

Octahedron is one of those games which almost defies description.  Thrust into a world of psychedelic colours and stick men with strange shapes for heads, developer Demimonde’s title manifests most clearly as a 2D platformer.  But that doesn’t begin to give you a full picture.

The screenshots strategically placed around this review give you an insight into the graphical stylings for Octahedron.  The brightly coloured, but nonetheless retro looks belie a very clever game.  The crux is this.  Many, if not all, titles in the platform genre encourage sideways movement to reach the end goal.  Here, your movement is vertical – up in fact. Your stick man is aided at first with just one crutch.  Namely, a tap on the X button that creates a platform beneath you.  Said platform can then slide either left or right to help you reach your next piece of solid ground.

The very best platform games however, straddle genres.  You know where the end goal is; sometimes you can actually see it.  But there are a million seemingly impassable objects to contend with before you get there; it becomes a puzzle.  Octahedron falls squarely into this bracket.  Throughout my time with the game, a niggle of familiarity prodded at my brain.  It was only when I sat down to write this review that realised what I was being reminded off.  This game is N+, on acid.

The dejavu is there most physically in the way your character flails his arms when jumping.  But the real call back is the borderline genius level design.  Each and every element of the stages tie into one another.  Platforms that only appear when your character surfs in a particular direction, some that don’t even turn up without a double jump at just the right time, and collectables hidden away at first glance, until some other switch at the other end of the stage is flicked.  Despite the hallucinogenic feeling colours, the levels are so tightly wound – every single thing is there for a reason.

Later worlds add different abilities to both complicate matters, whilst simultaneously adding another string to your bow.  It’s further tribute to Demimonde that none of these add-ons feel like bloat.  Some levels took multiple lives to complete.  Going back to those same stages with a significant chunk more experience and I wonder how I ever struggled.  Such is beautifully judged pacing of the difficulty.

I still haven’t got everything mind you.  I mentioned collectables.  Each level has flowers that need to be gathered up (after smashing the light bulbs they were in – I still don’t know why!) and difficult to reach (or hidden entirely) areas containing coloured balloons some of which you will almost certainly miss first time round.  Fail to collect enough of the flowers though and you won’t be able to progress to the next world – presumably the developer’s way of saying ” you’re not quite ready yet.”

All of this plays out to some incredible background music.  Early stages gave me a Hotline Miami vibe; fitting given the similarity in visual styles.  Be prepared later for some gently thudding house music and one level in particular that has the most terrific melodic trance track.  As your skill at the game grows you’ll feel like one platform you create is sliding into the next seamlessly and the soundtrack only works to heighten the synergy.

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