Concursion

Normally, I’d start this review with something along the lines of “Concursion is an action platformer game, developed by the indie studio Puuba ect, ect, ect…” However, with this game it’s not exactly that simple. Yes, the game was developed by Puuba, and published by Mastertronic Games, but the genre of this game is a little harder to define.

At first glance, it looks like your standard platformer. You control your hero, progress through a 2-d plane, jumping on enemies and picking up gem shards in a bid to save the princess and get a higher score and better time than your friends or previous best. And then. Then you see a strange sort of distortion on the screen. To someone such as myself who doesn’t research the games until after I already experience them, it looks like a glitch. Then you notice that beyond the distortion, there is no castle. No medieval world at all, in fact, it almost looks like… space?

You’d be right, and that brings me to my point. This game’s main claim to fame is that it aims to do away with games having a set genre, and instead aims to combine several within the same game. Nothing ground-breaking there, many games have included mini-games or bonus levels in a different style to their main storyline, but with Concursion, these genre shifts form a core aspect of gameplay.

There are five different realms in the world of Concursion, which, due to events that happen in the opening sequence, have been shattered. This means that throughout your quest, you’ll encounter portals to those other worlds. This has the effect of instantly changing your hero into that world’s counterpart, as long as you stay within the portal. Continuing my earlier example, that means that you can be running through a medieval castle, come across a screen-spanning distortion, jump through and BAM. You’re no longer a knight in shining(ish) armour, and instead are an ace star pilot, firing lasers across the cold void of space while avoiding incoming fire. Seconds later, you hit another portal and BAM. You’re a ninja master, running through feudal japan, eviscerating everything in your way with your ninja skills. You get the idea.

The game has five heroes, one for each realm, and each has their own unique special action and control type. For example, the knight can sprint, and controls like any platformer, right stick moves, press A to jump (on the 360 pad), whereas the ninja cannot sprint, but can attack with its sword, and double jump.

The game’s strength comes when you have to combine the skills of multiple heros to progress. In addition to the huge, screen-spanning rifts that convert the entire level into a different realm, there are also smaller rifts, converting a smaller area of the screen. This means that you can start as the knight and jump into a portal that lets you become a ninja. Now you’re a ninja you can immediately use the air jump, giving you’re the extra air-time needed to reach a secret ledge. It’s all done quite cleverly when you think about it.

Speaking of clever, the level designers are what I’m going to call evil geniuses, with hidden ledges, false walls and blind drops present to make sure you have to work for it to find all the hidden gem shards in each level.

Story wise, the game is pretty generic: Princess is captured, everything has gone wrong and it’s up to you to fix it by collecting the mystical gem shards, but the characters are likeable enough when they speak, and the dimension-hopping nature of the game lends an interesting twist to the traditional formula. Unfortunately, it’s not obvious from the start that this is the case, indeed, my first impression of the game put me distinctly in mind of Super Mario. In the first level, you ONLY have access to the knight, and his play style is arguable the weakest of the five, giving you no real indication that there is anything different about the game. However, it is a tutorial level, and the game introduced the new mechanics and heroes fairly soon after that. I just wish there was something, even if it was purely cosmetic, in that first level to show you what’s coming.
By the way, this game isn’t easy. Getting your head around the mechanics is tricky, and switching between them on the fly is downright confusing. In a good way. Pulling off a combo that has you switching heroes multiple times to reach a secret area is immensely satisfying, especially as it has probably taken you 10+ tries to get it right…

Unfortunately, some of the game’s difficulty is (in my opinion) downright unfair. In a game where you can only take 2 hits before dying, it’s not funny to include an enemy that attacks from off-screen and knocks you back. Especially if you’re trying to do a jumping puzzle above a pit of instant death at the time. Ok so maybe it’s a little funny, but c’mon guys, that’s just mean!
Seriously though, the game is challenging without being unfair, and the difficulty is actually an incentive to keep playing.

ScoringGameplay and Controls – The game utilises a 6-button system, with four buttons controlling movement, and two action buttons. This means that switching heroes doesn’t mean switching controls, easing the transition and leaving you less confused than you otherwise might be. That being said, the controls for keyboard are a bit unintuitive, and I’d highly recommend a 360 pad for this title. The gameplay is awesome, and, as I said before, the concept of a game that switches genres on the fly is both unique and awesome. 4/5

Sound and Music – The soundtrack is awesome. But that’s to be expected when you have an award winning composer. The guy who wrote this game’s soundtrack also worked on the T.V. show House M.D. Make of that what you will. Personally, I loved it, and while the sound effects were nothing special, they’re also not bad. 4/5

Graphics – The graphics style is interesting as it changes as you change world. Not majorly, but enough to distinguish one world from another beyond simple background changes. If I had a criticism it would be that in places the game can look like a combination of several flash games, rather than a full release, particularly in the ninja and space levels, but for an indie game that’s not a major flaw. 4/5

Story/immersion/replay-ability – As I said above, the game’s story is fairly standard, but it’s interesting enough for you to keep going. There’s also the incentive of wanting to punch the evil boss dragonling Bowser-thing right in it’s smug little face. Or maybe that’s just me… Replay-ability wise, the game has a time attack like system, as well as high scores, and achieving a high score while also achieving the target time for the level is frustrating enough to keep you around for a good while. 4/5

Final Score – In my opinion, this game is awesome. The genre swapping portals add a unique twist to the platformer formula, and the interaction between the skillsets of different heroes gives new and unique ways to solve puzzles that would be impossible in other, similar games. The game is hard enough to be enjoyable, without being frustrating, and although it’s still buggy in places, I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a change of pace or a new experience in gaming. 16/20

Watch The Trailer Here