Indie games are everywhere, and they’re accepted, no, welcomed, as part of the fabric of modern videogames. With their rebirth comes an influx of 2D platformers, from Braid to Shovel Knight, and Terraria to Trine. It’s…well it’s become a little overwhelming. Airscape: The Fall of Gravity is the latest to try its hand at the genre and, while not a bad game, it’s severely limited by a lack of innovation.
Airscape is the second game in a relatively short space of time to star an octopus as its protagonist, but unlike the clumsy squid masquerading as a human in Octodad, the octopi in Airscape are very much silent and lifeless. This octopus, for reasons unknown, has found himself trapped in a mysterious world. Your goal is to progress through each level, collecting up to three orbs (?) along the way. Collecting every single orb isn’t mandatory, and you can finish each level having avoided each one, but doing so would be unwise, as later worlds will remain locked until you gather the required amount.
As the octopus, you, for the most part, jump, sprint and swim your way through levels. Levels are fairly decent in length and feature a myriad of techniques you’ve seen before. Bombs, lasers, missiles and steep falls will provide the majority of your opposition, with timing critical to your success.
As its name suggests, Airscape: The Fall of Gravity plays on the manipulation of gravity, or lack of it in this case. With lower than normal gravity levels, you can jump higher, float further and manoeuvre in abnormal ways. It’s in these elements that Airscape is at its best, requiring precise timing and fast reactions. The game presents a fairly significant challenge from early on, too, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that the challenge sometimes strayed over the fine line into frustration. Certain levels will require a, quite frankly, tiresome, repetitive and mundane level of trial and error – I’m all for challenge in games, but Airscape doesn’t handle it as delicately is it should – Super Mario Galaxy it ain’t.
What Airscape does nail is its look and feel. Music is generally catchy and upbeat, without every becoming too intrusive or annoying, and the octopus makes a strangely satisfying suction noise. The game’s look, while simple, is consistent in its tone, with a blend of bright and saturated colours.
But, at the risk of repeating myself, Airscape’s biggest issue is its lack of innovation. Ambivalence, apathy, indifference – those words would probably be best suited to describe the few hours I spent with Airscape. It’s not offensive, it’s not bad, it’s not even mediocre, it’s just ok. A lot of what it’s set out to do has already been done, and I’d struggle to name a single new, fresh and interesting idea that’s presented in Airscape that hasn’t already been thought of, executed and perfected by someone else.
Airscape: The Fall of Gravity (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Airscape is ok. It’s a decent way to spend a few hours but, among an incredibly competitive bank of excellent 2D platformers, it fails to stand out.