Version Tested: PC
Going into Airscape: The Fall of Gravity I didn’t know what to expect. I had never heard of this title and had no idea what kind of game it was. Unfortunately, there are so many indie games released on Steam every week that it is easy to let some slip through the cracks into obscurity. Although many of these games can be less than stellar, just as many deserve attention and need to be held up for people to see. If you are curious which category Airscape falls into then keep reading to see what kind of experience it offers.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the game was the rather charming music and visuals of the title screen. It definitely conveys the feeling that this is going to be a fun and friendly game. Soon after I was greeted with one of the “protagonists” of the game, a small yellow squid-like creature. The game has a short tutorial area; you are in an undersea cave with several other seas creatures. It reminded quite a bit of the beginning of the Sega Genesis game Ecco the Dolphin.
You are given a short time to learn the controls. The camera rotates independently of your little yellow creature and at first this was a bit disorienting. There is an option to increase or decrease this rotation though and after a few minutes I had the hang of it. I tried the game using both keyboard/mouse and a controller and found the latter to be a better option.
After a bit of time, an alien force appears and abducts you and your other aquatic friends. Following this short scene, the real gameplay begins. Your little yellow squid now has some sort of helmet on which allows him to breath outside of water. Thus, you begin the first level on dry land. The first things I noticed were that the backgrounds were slightly interactive, with trees moving around a bit when you come in contact with them. The little squishy sound effects that your squid makes when he moves and jumps are adorable.
The objective of the levels is to make it from the beginning to the end while rescuing a number of your aquatic friends from sphere-like prisons. True to the game’s title the standard platforming gameplay is altered significantly by the introduction of gravity flipping. Anytime you come close to another surface you can jump to it and the gravity will change and orient you to the new surface. In addition, the game features floating masses of water that you can swim through and jump out of.
I found the game to be somewhat difficult for me. I died numerous times, and my apparent lack of skill was somewhat frustrating at times. The levels contained a fair amount of variety. The thinking required to figure out how to pass certain obstacles and save your friends kept me on my toes. In the early levels, you have confronted with various traps some stationary and some moving. They require precise swimming and jumping to avoid.
After beating the first area, you are then presented with a world map that is very reminiscent of Little Big Planet or Rayman Origins. To unlock new areas, you must rescue a required amount of your aquatic friends. Only a few levels in and you will discover that you can unlock alternative characters to play as, with the first one being a purple octopus. Each character has a different ability, and you will need to swap out characters frequently to get past the variety of obstacles you will face.
Speaking of obstacles; as I said before this game is quite difficult at times. I found myself dying frequently. It was frustrating at times, but never so much that I wanted to stop trying. With patience and careful timing, I was never stuck on a particular level for too long. The level design itself is excellent and varied. The art style and soundtrack go a long way towards making this game feel lighthearted and friendly despite the difficulty.
At the end of the day, the question is, of course, should you buy Airscape: The Fall of Gravity? The answer is absolutely, this game is more than worth its price. If you enjoy a fun and friendly games like Angry Birds or World of Goo then you will love Airscape.
AIRSCAPE: THE FALL OF GRAVITY is an action platformer about an octopus lost in a strange and dangerous world. Created by a team of students from around the world, Airscape combines innovative gravity mechanics, devious obstacles, and questionable physics.
Airscape is currently available below on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
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