Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, for precision platformers – or splatformers as they’re colloquially known as – really are my bag. Ever since I played the original Super Meat Boy on the Xbox 360, I love the challenge.
So, needless to say when I spotted SAOMI, which not only released later last year but also only costs a handful of euros, I was curious to find out how it would fare.
Many thanks to the QUByte Interactive for the review code
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
The titular SAOMI is a young adventurer in search of a lost family jewel: a precious diamond that has been lost to time. Over the course of the game’s 60 stages, she’ll jump, double jump, and dash her way around treacherous landscapes to achieve her goal.
At its core, the game is a ‘splatformer’ that packs bite size stages together that offer a decent challenge. Super Meat Boy is the normal game that springs to mind, but really this game has more in common with the recently reviewed RITE. It’s visuals are a lot simpler and far less charming than that title, but they do the job.
Even though its presentation may not be as impressive as that game, or many others in the genre, one thing it does get right is the controls. Your jumpy feels as weighty as you’d expect, and the dash feels sufficient in both speed and duration. It’s a little strange getting used to being able to dash in eight directions, especially as the game doesn’t make it clear that you can, but it feels good. Whilst judging the landing on the dash can be tricky, simply using it before your second jump should allow you to make precision jumps with ease. Controls in a precision platformer are essential, and the only real fault is that the jump is mapped to A as default and can’t be changed. An annoyance, for sure, but also one that you can get used to since the game doesn’t have many buttons.
Unfortunately, solid controls don’t make up for the rather lacklustre level design. It’s not terrible, but it’s just a bit generic and rarely does anything exciting. You have spikes, moving saws, moving platforms, basic moving enemies,… pretty much everything you’d expect. There’s no new environmental hazards nor mechanics to make this game stand out from its competitors, nor does it offer any exciting set-pieces to keep you engaged. By stage It wasn’t long into the game that I felt like I was going through the motions until reaching the end. It wasn’t ever bad or unfair at any point, which is welcome, but fans of the genre will probably fly through the game in a brief afternoon and never think about it again. But, considering the very cheap price, maybe that’s ok if you only want a quick fix.
SAOMI offers a rather cheap platforming experience, but it also doesn’t really do anything special. The visuals are fine, if basic; the gameplay is tight, but with generic levels; and there’s no unique moves, levels, enemies, or anything to set it apart. It’s not a bad game at all, especially if you want a cheap fix, but it’s one you’ll probably start to get a bit bored with around the halfway mark.