Almost There: The Platformer

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Title: Almost There: The Platformer
Developer: Bony Yousuf
Publisher: Quantum Astro Guild
Website: http://durdanto.studio/almost-there/
Genre: Action, Platformer, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: For ages 3 and up
Release Date: 21/02/2019
Price: £7.19 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

What the Developers say

Sprint between saw blades while dodging homing missiles. Duck under lasers while the floor crumbles beneath you. Almost There was designed specifically for fans of hardcore platforming – you’ve been warned.

100% Dexterity Platforming

Almost There provides uninterrupted platforming awesomeness.

Hours and Hours of Gameplay

With over 150 stages and timed challenges, Almost There will kill you thousands of times.

Spikes, Saws, Lasers, Missiles, Oh My!

Everything in Almost There is designed to kill you. Enjoy.

Created for platformer fans — by platformer fans

Introduction

Created by Bony Yousuf, ‘Almost There: The Platformer’ was originally released on both Android and IOS in May of 2018 and was pitched as a hardcore 2D-platformer that can be played with just one finger. The objective is to reach your goal in each of the 150+ stages while dodging and evading hazards at breakneck speed. TouchArcade, the largest website dedicated to covering IOS gaming, stated in their review “If you are looking for an additional platformer to add to your collection or a game you can play with one hand while standing in line, Almost There will fit that role nicely”.

With titles such as Celeste, Sonic Mania and Rayman Legends, the Nintendo Switch is littered with an abundance of excellent platformers. Does Almost There bring anything new to the genre or is it merely a reflection of its title?

Looks and Sounds

Almost There is played across three worlds, each differentiated from the other by a change in colour. Level design is minimalistic, with each stage consisting of a series of linear platforms and geometric obstacles such as spikes, projectiles and rotating saws. The approach is well executed and allows the focus to be solely on navigating through each stage without unnecessary distraction. As it was originally intended for mobile devices, the game lends itself well to the Switch’s handheld screen.

When it comes to sound design, I am torn. The music is provided by TeknoAXE, an artist who supports creators by supplying a diverse collection of music, ranging from heavy metal to orchestral to electro. As long as credit is given, all the music is provided royalty-free, and I would highly recommend checking his work out at www.teknoaxe.com. With over 1500 tracks, there is something for everyone. In total, Almost There uses three songs from TeknoAxe, with each song accompanying one of the three worlds.

The mix of techno and dubstep accompanies the hardcore platforming perfectly; it is just a shame that as you play through 50+ stages for each world, the same track accompanies you over and over again. Sadly, this results in an extremely repetitive soundtrack, and I struggle to comprehend why only three tracks have been included when a wide choice of music is so readily available.

Gameplay and Replayability

Each of the 150+ levels requires navigation through a combination of jumping, climbing and sliding. The early stages are relatively simple to complete. However, the challenge ramps up significantly – often to the point of extreme frustration. This frustration is pivotal in a hardcore platformer, and the satisfaction in achieving each level unscathed quickly becomes addictive. Level design is fantastic, and it was only a rare occurrence when stages felt similar to one another. The stages themselves are short and can be completed in anything from five to thirty seconds. The game is therefore perfect for jumping in and out of when you have a spare few minutes.

Almost There is also great in terms of accessibility. Succeeding levels are gated by a playthrough of the previous stage, rather than its completion. This is a smart touch, as it allows the player to leave a frustrating stage and move on, rather than feeling defeated by watching the attempt counter continue to rise. In terms of replayability, levels are rated by the time taken to finish them and completionists will be keen to collect three stars at every stage.

In a platformer, the saying that “gameplay is king” should always hold true. The success of titles such as Super Mario World (SNES) is partly due to their tight and responsive controls, which create a memorable experience for the player. Unfortunately for Almost There, this is where the game falls short. The wall-jumping mechanic that involves wiggling the left thumbstick back and forth is a poor design choice. It is clear that this control scheme worked well on a mobile device but it has not transferred effectively onto the Switch, and the lack of control mapping means the player is stuck in this mode.

On several occasions, completing a challenging stage was made even more difficult by the inability to wall-jump quickly enough to avoid approaching hazards. I recognise that failure is an integral part of a good platformer; it allows you to identify what you are doing wrong and how to improve for the next try. Failing because of a poorly designed control scheme, however, is an act of platforming sin.

Conclusion

Almost There: The Platformer does many things right. The minimalistic level design is solid, well varied and just the right level of frustrating. The music is also well chosen and accompanies the gameplay perfectly. However, it baffles me that only three tracks have been selected for the entirety of your playthrough. Almost There is best played in short bursts, and I did enjoy the challenge that it provided. However, with the inexcusable faults in the control scheme, Almost There: The Platformer feels more suited to a mobile device and fails to join the elite platformers on the Nintendo Switch.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

You can purchase Almost There: The Platformer at the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Almost-There-The-Platformer-1515438.html

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