Simple is as simple does. This is never more the case with The Perplexing Orb. Gracing Nintendo’s eShop, this puzzler neither challenges the skill or intelligence of the player. Delivering with lackluster visuals and elementary controls, this may not be the brain game you seek. Perhaps if you are new to the genre though, The Perplexing Orb can be the infant-like steps towards the puzzling path.
Developed by TreeFall Studios, you are placed in the role of a nameless orb of energy sent to navigate through many puzzles. I wish there was more to tell here plot wise, but it’s literally that short. The game is broken up into various worlds, and each world, broken up into numerous levels. I can’t quite say they advance in difficulty as you progress. World 5 was easier than world 3, but world 2 was harder than world 5. See what I’m saying? When I started The Perplexing Orb it carried a certain charm, but faded very quickly.
Controlling the orb is effortless. Keep in mind, effort is never really required. The left analog stick moves the orb 360 degrees, and depending on force, it can move faster or slower. Pretty much if you take it slow, you will burn through most of the game. There really isn’t any other control schemes at work. Move your orb, get to the end. Its pretty much, well, boring. I did find some challenging portions when made to guide the orb through very narrow paths. In certain circumstances you would have to perfectly line up the orb due to platform drops leading to a new platform. In these cases just the smallest inch off and you’re falling into the abyss. More variety in challenging moments like these would have been very welcomed.
The visuals of The Perplexing Orb consist of a drab palette of pre-alpha textures and environments. There isn’t any love put into the graphics. The red orb shows a small amount of detail at least, but still not enough to warrant a second glance. At times the lighting can sometimes give a decent hue. For the most part though, this game looks like it needed a few more months of work in the GPU department.
The audio work in The Perplexing Orb conveys the same monotone vibe the gameplay does. It’s feels like slowed down versions of 90’s tech pop. There’s nothing signifying climactic points, or moments where you should feel more engaged. After the initial hour, I turned off the sound and played a podcast. The Perplexing Orb is a perfect example of how a game’s audio can set the tone of the experience. When the sound feels like its looping, so does the gameplay.
In some aspects I can see where The Perplexing Orb could have been a challenging, fun, little puzzler. Unfortunately, it never catches it’s stride. Lack of variety and difficulty begin to damper the experience all too quickly. Some good ideas are hidden in the foundation, but overall it feels like it most likely needed a few more months in the development-oven to cook.
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