There's really nothing like a good, classic-inspired platformer.
Early last week, whilst strolling through my tumblr - I came across a photoset that intrigued me. I always try and keep an eye out for new games - especially games in early development for a bunch of reasons. I like seeing games grow from their humble beginnings to their grand endings, and it never hurts to give a promising indie developer the attention they deserve. And I after seeing Preece's work on their game Frauki's Adventure (currently in it's Alpha stage), they definitely deserve some good press.
Frauki's Adventure is pretty simple. Preece describes on their tumblr page that it is a "melee platformer where you journey to the bottom of a strange and mysterious world." They also claim that they drew inspiration from Mega Man X and Dark Souls. It's difficult, and it's visuals are charming and harken back to the fun platformers of the SNES era. It's quite the package for a game that's technically not even finished yet.
This game has a lot going for it. It's simplicity is probably it's biggest strength. It doesn't mire itself with too many obnoxious story elements, and instead focuses on exploration and combat. The world is crafted beautifully, and Preece does a good job in giving the game this oddly nostalgic, dream-like quality as you journey deeper and deeper. You get to really notice the little things that Preece does to make this game fun and dynamic - and that's really all you could ask for in a game like this.
The combat is equal parts difficult and fun. I haven't progressed as far into the game as I would like, because admittedly, I'm pretty bad at platformers - but I can say that what I've had a good time so far. The enemies are appropriately hard, and their patterns are easy to learn, so it's not like you're going to be stuck screaming at your computer screen for hours and hours on end.
And the little upgrades that you can find to both your health and attacks made me smile, because it gives me that same sense of accomplishment that I always got playing Mega Man X in my youth.
This game is an all around good time, but there are some issues that I couldn't get over throughout my play through.
So, as fun as the world is, I feel like there were parts that clearly showed how unfinished the game was. There were moments when I could fight through walls, which isn't the worst bug, but it definitely pulls me out of the rest of the game. It's small, but I think that it matters when a game focuses so heavily on combat. It also makes it very easy to cheat. For example, I was able to get a health upgrade way before I was supposed to - so my reward for completing a task wounded up being nothing but an apple.
Apples are great, but it would have been nicer to earn the health upgrade.
The only other problems I have are simple nitpicks - little issues here and there. Some of the movement can be a little choppy, and there is a mechanic that let's you grapple onto walls that I found particularly difficult to use. This could also just be my ineptitude when playing platformers! You'll have to tell me when you play through.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a solid game, and I can't wait to see the finished product. It works well, and aside from some minor hiccups, holds up as a difficult combat-oriented platformer. The design evokes a dreamlike quality that fits with the strange and mysterious nature that Preece wants to give it, and it's not bogged down by an overcomplicated plot. I really can't wait to see this game's final form - and if you want to play it...
You can download it's Alpha right here. And you totally, totally should!
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played games since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any games you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!
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