Available On: Xbox One, PC
Developer: Brainy Studio
Publisher: Brainy Studio
Genre: Platform Game
Official Site: Brainy Studio
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Where To Buy: Xbox Store, Steam
Simply put, TurnOn is inescapably vibrant, and it is also one of the most relaxing games you can play. There is nothing to the gameplay mechanics, as the only functions include using the basic directional pad and one button to jump. Despite the simplicity of it, there are many elements that add great replay value to TurnOn and even make the game somewhat addicting.
The story, like the gameplay, is a basic one. After a night gone wrong at a power station, a suburban town called Electro City is plunged into darkness. It is up to our main character Turnon, a smiling, alien ball of electricity, to restore light and power all across the town. That could include everything from street lamps, to actually moving through residents’ homes to turn on televisions, radios, and appliances- all while staying on electrical lines that support you.
Every level completed is rated by three light bulbs (as opposed stars) to let you know how you performed. The majority of the points is dependent on how many blue lightning bolts you can collect, as well as how many lamps you can hit to restore power. There are also a number of generators Turnon can go into, which power entire houses and other buildings.
It may seem mundane at first, especially on the first level when you are settling into the rhythm of the game, but Brainy Studio has created a great sense of anticipation that leaves you wondering what other sort of levels are in store. All of the levels feel fresh and are unique in the greater context of the game. They offer up enough variation so it feels like the player isn’t always doing the exact same thing, the exact same way, every time. Because of that, however, TurnOn experiences a mild identity crisis in terms of genre. Though the game is indeed refreshing, it’s (technically) a platformer that doesn’t really want to be a platformer, and that becomes evident the more you play.
The visual storytelling happening throughout the game is genuinely stunning, and TurnOn caters to exploration in a way that keeps the player from feeling confined in any given level, or rushed to go on to the next one. It also has a certain emotional investment that you may not be expecting to capture your attention. That investment starts happening slowly, first with Turnon lighting the streets so a young girl can get home, and then with restoring power to a home in complete disarray because their electronics and appliances don’t work. It all adds up until the player genuinely begins to care about restoring light to the city.
If TurnOn is visually stunning, then there is only one word for the game’s soundtrack: beautiful. The music is the perfect balance of light and upbeat music, of acoustic guitars and soft piano keys, with smart hints of jazz put in there for good measure. Each selection of music fits the level’s tone and aesthetic. It also had a big hand in creating that relaxing vibe for the player that I mentioned earlier. It’s not uncommon to find yourself bobbing your head or tapping your fingers against the controller while listening to the songs. While music is no small feat in any game, Brainy Studio really created something special with their audio, and it only added to the immersion experience.
Another reason for the game’s relaxation element stems from the fact that TurnOn is not very challenging. While there are some levels here and there that can make you ponder your next move, TurnOn faces adversaries and obstacles (drones, red lightning bolts that deplete health, etc.) that can be easily overcome with simple timing and decent-enough coordination. Aside from falling off the electrical wires, nothing will actually keep you from progressing to the next level, even if you only managed to get one lightbulb out of three. Even as you progress through Electro City, the levels don’t get harder. They just get longer, with more bolts to find and more street lamps to turn on.While some gamers may find little incentive to play TurnOn upon its completion, it is still a title that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of skill level.
There were a few technical and gameplay glitches during my playthrough of the game. The first of them being that that Turnon would not always jump when the A button was pushed. It was either that, or he (she? it?) would jump far too late, resulting in instant death. Sometimes in the middle of gameplay, TurnOn froze up completely. When that happened, my Xbox One would (no pun intended) turn off. It didn’t happen that often, but often enough where I had time to be frustrated about it. While it didn’t detract too much from the overall gameplay experience, it is still something worth noting.
On the achievements side of things, TurnOn boasts over eighty trophies. While that number may seem way too large for a game so small, rest assured that most of these trophies are racked up fairly quickly and can be gotten just from completing the level all the way through for the first time. It’s not unusual to get up to ten trophies in one level. For the adamant trophy hunters, however, more achievements are earned from collecting the three light bulbs at the end of the level, and others are unlocked based on your thorough explanation of the level.
The team at Brainy Studio has created something special with TurnOn. Though the gameplay and story were simple and the lack of challenge was noticeable, the excellent music and visually pleasing pops of color and light throughout each level are what makes this game worth playing.
- Gameplay: Simple and easy to pick up on.
- Graphics: Game has a whimsical, colorful look.
- Sound: Spectacular music in each level.
- Presentation: A wonderful game that can be enjoyed by players of different skill levels.
- Visually appealing levels
- Outstanding music
- Wide variety of levels that all feel new and fresh
- Lack of challenging levels may turn off some players
- A few glitches interrupt the flow of gameplay
Tori is a writer and gamer originally from Vault 111, but now she resides in Chicago. She has an MFA in creative writing-fiction, runs primarily on coffee, and is an expert on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Follow her on Twitter @torithatnerd.