Review: Semblance (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: Semblance (Switch)

by Jon Cousins

What you've squished for.

It's a bold and brave move taking on the platform genre, not only because a certain Italian plumber has ruled the roost on Nintendo systems in both 2D and 3D, but also due to something of a renaissance and influx of ’twitch’ style games like Super Meat Boy, lightning reaction speed and perseverance have been more in vogue. 

Semblance turns both traditional and recent genre conventions on their head with a delightful, imaginative and gorgeous world driven by clever puzzles and artistic charm. 

As the gelatinous protagonist Squish, it's your job to collect pink orbs from three distinct environments. Not much else is explicitly explained, but all three introduce a core mechanic that's both organic in implementation and used to solve increasingly complex, structurally based challenges. 

The game is presented in a non linear fashion, adding both a sense of freedom and removing the frustration of getting stuck. Both ”eureka” like exclamations and smirk producing success occur regularly, as an orb may seem impossible to get upon first visit, only to accidentally discover a manoeuvre previously not thought possible and return to collect said orb with pace and confidence. 

The best puzzle games make you feel both stupid and clever alternately, and Semblance achieves this without the pretentiousness of something like The Witness, but also sprinkles in a little old school platforming skill. 

Using elements such as changing Sqush's physical form, avoiding hazards and utilizing momentum, Semblence is a gleefully gratifying experience. Learning an areas set of rules and limitations encourages you to be methodical, but it's also fun to experiment, seldom feeling like mindless trial and error. 

As mentioned before, it looks gorgeous. Multi layered silhouettes combined with small details such as dust and the flowing movement of Squish himself are a joy to see, along with a brilliantly moody, ambient soundtrack and effects. 

Semblance serves as a great platform to demonstrate a cool and creative idea similar to the first Portal, with a lush world that's enjoyable to explore as well as traverse. No individual mechanic outstays it's welcome (almost to its detriment) and controlling Squish isn't as tight as some might be used to, but Semblance is a short, sweet, clever and charming puzzle platformer. We've been engineered to use rigid structures to race to the end, and with Semblance we realize that it's fun to bend, nudge and push the boundaries. 

Final Score: 8.5

[Review code provided by the publisher]

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