In the fantasy land of Notthatmuchfurther, Zordok, Derp, and Kevin, three monsters that are huge fans of slaughter, bloodbaths, and Shakespeare.
Bored out of their minds, they hire Zot to put on a show for them, and his choice of actors certainly has no talent included.
It seems like every week I’m reviewing one platform game or another, from fast based puzzle platformers to adventure based 3D titles, there’s certainly plenty of titles available, but Talent Not Included changes things up slightly by keeping all the action on one screen, with rotating a cylindrical floor that constantly throws up the next obstacle.
You take control of the brave night Cecil, followed by the rogue/ranger Bonnie and eventually Gundelf the wizard. Initially it’s very straight forward, a few platforms rotate into view, and you hop around the screen grabbing coins and the large token before the floors rotate to reveal the next pattern of platforms, Its quite a novel idea to place an entire level within a single screen, but while much more aesthetically pleasing, the rotating floors offer little more variation than simply walking onto the next screen. Still maintaining the aspect that this is all taking place on a single stage is quite an impressive direction.
The platform and character physics are smooth, well animated and fluent, controls work very well with all actions well represented on screen without delay. You could argue there’s enough single screen platformers, but very few are put together quite as well and seeing the level dynamically change as you progress becomes even more and more impressive the further you get into the game when the layout of the platforms become more and more complex.
Add in various enemies, dash sword attacks and projectiles to avoid and you’ll soon see there’s far more depth to the game-play as you progress.
Unfortunately most of this is saved for the second half of the game, and most of the first third (using Cecil) feels far more like a lengthy tutorial. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, and by the time you get to the really difficult time based levels, you’ll be thankful of the time you’ve spent mastering traversing across the screen in various ways.
There’s also split-screen co-operative action, where you and a friend can play together, there’s a challenge aspect to see who gets most coins, however as long as one of you hits the final token, then you’ll progress forward, and with the exception of the final number, there’s little reason to make sure you grab every single coin, when all that truly matters is the final token.
This makes split-screen play considerably easier and on some levels, barriers will force a certain route across the screen, but this is easily bypassed if your buddy is already on the opposite edge, ready to grab the large token.
Difficulty does jump a little with the boss battles and later levels, but usually it’s just a case of learning the challenge at hand, and giving it a few attempts, for that reason boss battles do feel a little underwhelming as they’re often far too predictable to put up a real challenge.
Graphically there’s a smart paper-craft style that gives a less adult feel to the game, which certainly makes the first hour feel more accessible to younger gamers, however like a certain AAA title I could mention, cartoon graphics don’t make a bad game, and in this instance they do a great job, sure they don’t really break through your glasses and caress your eyeballs, but it’s safe to say they’re good enough for a title dropping in at around £10.
Audio is equally sufficient, with constant audio relevance to your actions, sometimes the music and effects do tend to tie the ‘levels’ together a little too closely, and this means whether your collecting the large tokens between each screen, or landing on the red platform at the end of a level, it all feels like a continuous trek back and forth across the screen,
For around £10 (exact price unconfirmed) Talent Not included isn’t a bad game at all, there is just about enough variety in the levels, even if the same can’t be said for the characters. People looking for a fun platform title can’t go far wrong especially if you’ve got a buddy to co-operate with, With about 3-5 hours of game-play on offer, it’s pretty good value for the price range, and the time trial mode that unlocks is a fun way to revisit levels and check out the leader-boards which will offer further value for many.