A retro 2D platformer with slight Metroid gameplay, Adventures of Poppe has its heart in the right place but is bogged down with tedious backtracking, cheap difficulty, and the lack of direction.
Poppe is young boy that is either very tiny or he has been placed in a very large world as the entire campaign is essentially that backyard scene from Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. When I first saw the trailer, I was picking up some Little Nemo (NES) vibes but quickly realized it is definitely its own thing, for better and worse.
Unless you have the patience of a saint, it won’t take long for Adventures of Poppe to test your tenacity. Within the first few minutes, you’ll acquire a knife to attack the repeating bugs and critter enemies, but it is entirely underpowered. In time, strength upgrades can be found so it doesn’t take four swipes to kill those caterpillars but it will probably be too late by that point. If the repeating enemies don’t kill you a boredom, their attack patterns will. Some bugs can’t be killed, like the pillbugs that spring back to life, or those purple cricket things that always hit you. Enemies don’t drop health pick ups so you basically need to play flawlessly at all times.
As if the developers knew they were creating an unfair game, they included a God Mode option on the main menu that grants invincibility. Once I activated this welcomed featured, the experience because much more fun as I didn’t have to worry about dying every 3 minutes from cheap enemy placement. However, activating this cheat doesn’t help with the level design. The lack of a map feature or indicator makes players wander aimlessly. This is a pain because you might go down a route for 30 minutes only to realize you hit a dead end and do not have the one time use item you need to progress. Then you need to backtrack, killing dozens of the same enemies that have too much health, just to make it back to the origin point. Making matters worse, there are times when one bad jump can send you back minutes of backtracking.
Visually, the game sort of looks like a classic NES game and bright, pixeled colors really give this game strong retro flare. Unfortunately, elements in the background can sometimes be difficult to distinguish. For example, it took me a while to realize I could jump on that window sill and I lost minutes of my life trying to find a door that just looked like a random, non-interactive background element. The soundtrack also has that warbly tone, making is sound like a Genesis game.
As it is presented, Adventures of Poppe demands a lot of the player, so much so that is sucks all the fun out of it. This is a shame because I think there would be a good game here if some basic elements were more refined like enemy variety, enemy health, if the difficulty was diminished, and if there was some type of the map feature. Sadly, this quest only comes recommended if you enjoy punishment and unfair gameplay.
Not As Good As: the Alwa titles
Don’t Forget About: Sydney Hunter and the Curse of Mayan
Also Play: Ravva and the Cyclops Curse
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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