Tulpa (PC) Review
The Fools Gold Of Games
This pretty yet pretentious puzzle platformer is a pleasure to perceive, but a pain to play.
Games are a medium for expressing ideas and feelings like any other art form. Tremendous amounts of work are put into a game’s style to make it stand out from the crowd and that ideal is showcased in this new title from Rising Star Games. You play as Ophelia, a young woman seemingly trapped in a surreal dreamscape where she finds her “tulpa” Oliver and they have to escape together from this nightmare.
Puzzle platformers are certainly not a new idea, and we have seen others before presented in a highly stylized fashion. Never before have I seen such beautiful backgrounds with a color splash motif in a game. Each screen if absolutely wallpaper worthy, and with smooth animations and sharp contrast, it makes the game great to watch and the other worldly feel given by the background really keeps you entertained throughout the game. The only problem is the total lack of attention to given to the character that is controlled. Ophelia and Oliver the tulpa look exactly like those little bride and groom characters on the top of a wedding cake, and they move with about the same grace.
Controls on a platformer of any kind are absolutely paramount since it takes skill to jump from ledge to ledge and to maneuver around all the obstacles. Ophelia is slow and clunky and it takes her multiple attempts to grab on ledges that are clearly in reach. Oliver the tulpa is just a stand in for mouse control really, because switching to him is the only time you can use your cursor to make changes in the environment like using a lever or moving a box.
The puzzles are actually quite well thought out most of the time and a fair assessment would be challenging but fair for many of them. The only real problem lies with putting all that effort into the background makes some of the puzzles hard to understand since its usually black background with black items that have no border or outline to make them stand out.
Even though the art is undoubtedly cool, it does have some difficulty in deciding what kind of game it wants to be. When the tuple is too far away from Ophelia, she starts to shake and look as she’s in pain and possibly losing her mind. This seemed like a cool concept to me, since there are other games with insanity meters, but they never build on this in any noticeable way. Many others have a unique atmosphere they are aiming for like horror, sad, cheery, but this just comes off as weird and surreal and it takes away from the experience. Mood setting won’t be too important though, since this game is far too short to even build that up. With no story given at all, it seems like it would have been easy to make us feel for the characters and more levels would enhance that feeling.
In the end, this is more of interactive art piece than a real platformer but that may not be a bad thing. Trying something new and going for broke on your own vision is admirable, and for $10 right now on steam, it’s at least worth buying for the artistic beauty if not the cool puzzles.
Not As Good As: Limbo
Better Than: Monochroma
Also Try: going to an art museum