By John Walker on February 18th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.
Puzzle platformers must rotate. It’s the new law. Pulse Shift certainly obeys it, asking you to negotiate a series of floating tiled platforms by rotating the world left or right (relating to the direction you’re facing). There’s a demo up on Desura, along with the full game for £6.50. And I’ve kindly put some thoughts on the demo below.
It’s halfway there. Which is always the most frustrating distance from a game. In terms of a challenge, while I’m certainly I’ve played very similar elsewhere, Pulse Shift offers satisfying puzzles. Elaborate arenas of floating platforms must be negotiated, in order to reach a level’s goal – a small green arrow. The levels float perpendicular to each other, and of course the rotation means either side is accessible. Everything’s in place.
But nothing feels comfortable. Rotation is needlessly slow, and once mastered (after the brief tutorial) becomes an unpleasant delay in moving around. In fact, it’s so slow that impatience to go anywhere causes weird physics to have you bouncing off the surface, often into the eternal depths below. Thankfully there’s the other obligatory inclusion in all such games, the rewind button. Although oddly here you can’t just do a quick stab backward – it insists on going a few too many seconds further back than is useful.
You’ll use the rewind far more for the jumping, unfortunately, which is certainly the very worse aspect here. Floaty and drifty, there’s no sure way to know you’re going to make purchase with narrow landing tiles, making the frequent leapy-sections a pain in the arse. If there were just a bit of weight to you, moving around would feel far less like being trapped in a strange, slick fog, and the platforming itself would be far more appealing. And there must be some weight to you, since falling an arbitrary distance is deadly, feeling antithetical to the nature of the game.
Lastly, in my list of Things Pulse Shift Needs To Fix is the overall delivery. The levels themselves are presented nicely, in a minimalist manner, but sadly so are the goals. Those faint green arrows can be invisible, even in the very few levels offered in the demo. And not knowing where you’re headed is perhaps a touch disappointing. Levels are also offered to you in a very offhand way – “Continue” doesn’t politely put you in the next level, or as some may put it, let you continue. Instead you’re returned to the level select screen, and have to choose the next one anyway. And you’ll learn when this brief demo is over, because none will be added to the top of the list. Nothing else, no “demo over, buy it here!”. It all feels very dismissive.
If the game goes off into many more interesting directions, or starts to require additional skills, unfortunately none of that is hinted at in the demo levels offered. In the state it’s currently in, I felt no impetus to spend the £6.50 to carry on. And that’s a shame, because the core concept is one I wish to keep playing. It’s just the game gets in the way at every point.