Lying somewhere between the controller-based rhythm action of a Rock Band Blitz and the more mobile friendly endless runner gameplay of a Temple Run or Sonic Dash, GameArt Studio GmbH’s oddly compelling Fermi’s Path initially seems like a strange choice for a console release, but the more you play it, the more it feels at home on the Xbox One.
Yes, it could work equally well on the iOS platform, but the more traditional structure and challenge heavy gameplay actually feels a lot more organic on console than one might initially imagine, and besides, if it means no micro-transactions, I’m more than happy to pay a little more and play the game while sat on my sofa.
Playing in what appears to be sub atomic space as a single particle, you travel on a fixed course (along a nerve?) on a four way access as you pick up a selection of collectibles while moving to the beat of the music. You can jump to avoid obstacles and fire a basic attack at the limited number of enemies you encounter and, well, that’s about it. Fundamentally, this is a very simplistic video game, but like the best of its ilk, the score-chase design and solid mechanics combine to create a compelling and hugely addictive experience.
The aesthetic is certainly a strange one, but it certainly helps the game stand out from the crowd, and honestly, rhythm games have something of an illustrious history when it comes to insane visual design with Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s, Rez and Child of Eden proving obvious examples of art design gone mad.
While Fermi’s Path certainly isn’t as visually spectacular or quite as imaginative as either of those games, it’s still very pretty in its own right with only a sense of inevitable repetition souring an otherwise exemplary audio/visual experience.
Still, while the visuals might get a tad samey, the same certainly can’t be said for the games’ largely brilliant soundtrack. Catchy from beginning to end, Fermi’s Path’s toe-tapping electro soundtrack is perfectly suited to the unique aesthetic while providing the backbone of the collect-em-all gameplay. The songs themselves are catchy enough, but it’s the satisfying beats added by your constant colleting that drives the game forward and ultimately makes any missed item felt through the subsequent beat-free music.
Actually completing a particular stage in the games’ core Path Mode, is rarely all that difficult, but collecting a decent number of the odd, musically charged gold rings often is. You can ignore many of these if you simply want to reach the end of the stage, but if you have ambitions to make a dent on the high score chart (or have the music play as it should), you’re going to want to pick these up while looking out for the harder to find special items, speed / power boosters and hidden paths. There is no traditional fail for sucking ala Rock band Blitz, but take enough hits on your way down the line and you’ll soon find yourself back at the start of the level.
Three difficulty settings allow for a gentler introduction for those struggling with what is a challenging but usually fair experience with additional life bars and easier success goals provided on the lower difficulty setting. There aren’t a huge number of stages to get through, but with the additional difficulty settings, a number of stage specific challenges and an unlockable Infinite Mode that allows you to chase a high score on never ending levels, Fermi’s Path offers plenty of content for those looking to see everything that the game has to offer.
It’s combination of rhythm-based gameplay and endless runner-style mechanics is somewhat unique, and while it might initially appear a better fit for handheld gaming, a solid structure and selection of challenges ensures that it works surprisingly well on a home console. It’ll prove a bit short on content for those uninterested in high score chasing, but for those looking for a decent challenge and a peripheral-free alternative to Rock Band 4, Fermi’s Path’s impressive visual design, great music and gratifyingly simplistic gameplay combine to create what is a solid and largely enjoyable addition to the Xbox One’s increasingly impressive list of indie titles.
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