Semispheres PC Review
Interesting color design
Lots of levels
Lack of music
Needs more storyline
Humans are programmed to do a lot of things very well, and often many things at the same time. However, this is usually when we can focus on those tasks completely, so Vivid Helix has pounced on that weakness and is forcing the player to focus on two halves of the screen at the same time, and to figure out some very complex puzzles while you are at it. Semispheres is a game that makes you solve two puzzles for the price of one. You have to work in conjunction with each side, and use different powers and tactics to make it so that both sides get to the goal.
With cool blue and warm orange on either side, you must maneuver two jellyfish towards the end while avoiding “guards” the whole way. You are given certain powers along the way like being able to make a sound to pull the guard towards a certain direction like most stealth games, but also powers like teleportation and portal creation. It’s an odd mix of powers from across the gaming spectrum, like seeing Portal and Metal Gear Solid together in one game. Said powers do get used often and in different ways so as to keep you on your toes so the challenge does stay fresh.
The difficulty is definitely high the higher you go, but the curve getting there is not so much a curve, but more likely akin to a jagged saw blade. Some are insanely easy you wonder why they put them in at all, while others are so counter intuitive and obtuse you might question the sanity of the creators. More than anything, it actually hurts the player to be an experienced gamer since it plays on the well-toned gamer reflexes. One example being the solution to one of the levels is to actually get caught by the “guards” so that you will get transported not even to where you began, but to a different part of the level, giving you enough time to complete the mission. However, this is completely against all learned strategies even going back to the era of Pac-man, and it wasn’t as if this was hinted at in some clever way, it was seemingly random and you were expected to just figure it out somehow.
Many games that are difficult in nature do tend to have something else that keeps the player going, like a great soundtrack, or great visuals, or a storyline that you need to unlock. All players need that light at the end of the tunnel to make them feel as if they have accomplished something, but that seems to be an afterthought here. There is a kind of pixar-like story board that gets unlocked after completing 5 levels at a time, but it never seems worth the wait, and the journey getting there can be quite grueling. Even if you’re a puzzle genius and you race through the stages, the sound track is barely there, instead opting for a “zen” or “chill” approach, but it comes off as if they forgot to make a soundtrack at all.
Semispheres is a good puzzle game for those who love puzzle games, but it lacks the engagement and fun that would take it so much higher and grab a new audience with the causal gamer. That said, its cheap enough that if you want to check it out, it would be easy to do, and if you want to tease your brain and keep mildly entertained, then this is for you.