Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform(s): PC(reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: February 7th, 2017(PC) Spring 2017(console)
The first game from indie developer Splashteam launched on Steam, PSN, and the Xbox Marketplace earlier this month. While it hasn’t been getting an insane amount of attention, a quick look for the game over on Giantbomb.com caught my eye. In Splasher, the style of Splatoon meets the precise and frantic platforming of Super Meat Boy.
Selling someone on Splasher is relatively easy. Do you like super fast and fluid platforming, a kickass soundtrack and characters eerily similar to the inklings of Splatoon? If all of that sounds good Splasher is for you. In Splasher you play as a purple haired boy only referred to as “Splasher.” You’ll platform your way through the Ink Corp facility saving employees along the way all in the hopes of catching a mad doctor who appears to just be making some freaky fleshy robot monsters. The plot isn’t clear but dammit this thing has style!
Super tight precision platforming makes Splasher a joy to play for hours, every move feels deliberate, and new elements added as you progress make sections both more challenging and more satisfying to conquer. Above I compared Splasher to Super Meat Boy which feels right with some fundamental differences. Like in Meat Boy you’ll bounce off walls dodging saw blades and enemies as well as other hazards, however, unlike Meat Boy you have a weapon of sorts at your disposal. Early on you’ll be given a waterpack you can use to shoot enemies, hit switches and clear ink that gives you trouble. Two ink types pink which makes you stick to surfaces and yellow which makes you bounce off are vital to solving Splasher’s puzzles. Later in the game, the ability to fire these ink types from your pack in addition to water make for some amazing fast-paced puzzles. As these puzzles are a whole lot of trial and error the super fast respawn times, as well as the thoughtful checkpoint placement help, keep things flowing.
In between levels you’ll enter a hub world to explore. It’s not much to look at, but from here you’ll access every stage and be able to switch over to time trial mode which can become a quick obsession. You may also notice an area that is gated off. In each stage, you’ll encounter factory workers to save. Each worker you rescue gets you one letter eventually spelling out splash. If you’ve scored a high enough point total of 700 for defeating enemies and clearing paint by the end of the level, you’ll rescue a final worker with an exclamation point. You’ll need to save at least 60 of these guys to reach the last level, don’t sweat it too much though I achieved this number naturally without trying too hard.
Splasher’s art pops with color and personality. It seems minimalist and a whole lot like something you might seem out of The Behemoth( creators of Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid). You can also grab the soundtrack which is pretty great on Steam for an additional four dollars. Little sound effects like the record scratch effect on death also lend themselves to make the soundtrack more enjoyable.
Splashers biggest problems lie in some control mix-ups. Once you have every ink type, it’s easy to get caught up and fire the wrong shot causing an easy death. While this is far from a huge issue, it can get rather frustrating on longer sessions. Splasher’s length also leaves a bit to be desired. I finished the whole thing in about five hours, while fifteen dollars isn’t terribly expensive you can get more bang for your buck in other titles. I also wish Splasher were just a bit harder. Some levels took me a bit to get through, but it never reached the insanely challenging level that Super Meat Boy does.
Splasher is pretty great looking and super fun indie title from Splashteam. If super fast platformers are their game, I hope a sequel is in their thoughts. While Splasher isn’t perfect it is polished and a whole lot of fun to play. You can pick it up now on Steam and on PS4 and Xbox One in the spring.
Score: 8 out of 10