Full disclosure: I went out of my comfort zone for this game because I saw a post about it on twitter about Slime Fantasy and it looked cool. It’s a Pico-8 game about a slime that needs his sword back to defend his kingdom and so I followed the link to Steam. What I saw there was a cool-looking pixel game with zero reviews. Honestly, I hated to see it. Especially when I thought the game looked interesting enough. Then it was confirmed to me that it was a “kill you a lot” platformer. I hesitated for a day or so then picked it up. It did and does kill me a lot; that much is true. Is it worth picking up though? Let me break it down for you.
First and foremost, the game is one of those “precision platformers” where your timing and accuracy are important. If that’s not really your cup of tea, this may not be the perfect game for you. However, I wouldn’t write it off completely. Unlike some of those other games (I’m looking at you 1001 Spikes), this one can be defeated. However you will need some patience. I’ve noticed that getting through the stages isn’t too bad if you’re not just Leeroy Jenkins-ing though them. There are some interesting jumping patterns, but nothing impossible. What’s been the most impossible for me is just waiting for the right moment. There is also a timer, but it’s set so high that I never felt pressured by it. Maybe at the end of the game that’s different, but near the middle or however the crap far I made it, it wasn’t an issue.
The best things about this game are the looks and controls. First up, I love the 1 Bit aesthetic (although the Steam page describes Slime Fantasy as 8 bit). I know that there are a fair bit of games utilizing this recently (I even had a prototype about two years ago) and as long as it’s done well I don’t mind. It is done well here. It’s pretty minimalist and what’s needed to give detail is there and the game’s size (resolution) is small enough to have just enough extra sprites to decorate the screen without drowning you in frivolous details. It’s a delicate balance and I feel it’s achieved here.
I’m also a fan of the controls because they respond when you want them too as long as you do it at the right time (durrr…). There wasn’t many times that I pressed jump or moved and died that I couldn’t point the finger of blame to myself. That being said, while I think it’s good, I don’t feel it’s perfect. There is a funky issue with the jumping. If you hold it down you’ll jump higher, but you’ll also continue to jump when you land. So not only do you have to balance getting enough height and distance by holding it down, you’ll have to let it go as well so you don’t land and then jump up into waiting spikes. This happened a bit until I figured it out. Another funky jumping mechanic occurs when you are jumping towards a disappearing/reappearing platform. If you land it “just right” you can get some serious air by jumping into a reappearing platform at the “right” time. What this means is if your timing is off when jumping up towards a platform you know will be there, it could send you up towards some lonely spikes. Time and patience and you’ll get over this too though.
Another issue I had was with hit-boxs. It’s either me as the slime or the spikes/Lava obstacles. When the ground is level with the pokie/burny stuff, you don’t need to actually touch them to die. If you get close enough, they will just kill you even if you never left the ledge. I could make all of the jumps without getting that close, but I also kind of expect to die only if I went off of the ledge into the danger. It made a few deaths feel a bit cheap.
The last thing that irks me are the little gold slimes that you can collect while traversing the levels. What’s the point? There are three, maybe four in each level and while they note that you’ve picked them up, they don’t seem like they do anything nor does it seem to effect anything. “It’s just for the challenge” I guess. Maybe that would count for AGDQ, but for me, when I noticed that I wasn’t getting any benefit from it, I just stopped going for them. It feels like a missed opportunity.
The music also helps the adventure go pretty smooth. It loops, as one would expect, but doesn’t get annoying. The different songs all work well with the look and I’m impressed that this one dev did all the work. I know that’s getting more common place, but it’s still impressive.