Ellipse isn’t shy, you get exactly what is says on the tin. This neon-astral-themed action game will have you rocketing through level after level. Your goal is simple, guide your mouse through 5 way-points. Once you reach the 4th way-point a portal will materialise, allowing you to finish the level, for extra stars you can try to reach the 5th way-point before entering the portal. This isn’t always an easy task however, once you reach the fourth the neon colours bloom to a dazzling blur across the screen. Obstacles and enemies will often speed up too.
Levels are normally over in the blink of an eye, often favouring quick mouse movements over being slow and steady. Restarting upon failure is nice and quick too, reducing any possible frustration. I honestly found it a little bit too easy, at first it was satisfying to rail off 20 levels in less than 20 minutes, however I couldn’t help but think a lack of thought was put into their design.
When you finish most levels in a few seconds it’s hard to come back with any memorable moments. It felt the majority of these levels were made to fill a quota rather than test my skill. Inconsistency in their difficulty was plain to see too. A random level will have you stuck for upwards of 20 attempts for the next to be finished in under 5 seconds on the first try.
Lots of games suffer from this, and it might seem like I’m being overly harsh, but no memorable levels come to mind. The difficult levels usually arise from a test of your patience, rather than precise mouse movements. I often felt like I cheated, presented with a complicated stage only to complete it on the first try, it just felt a bit pointless. This has made me believe Ellipse has been primarily balanced for playing on tablets. While I haven’t tried it myself I can imagine it being much more engaging on a touchscreen.
With all of those flaws aside Ellipse has continued to keep me glued to my screen. One more level, turns into two more levels which turns into forgetting about leaving your dinner in the oven. The sound design consists of beautiful ambient droning, bleeps and bloops, complementing the abstract space theme. Bullets shot from sentries add percussion to the soundscape, and the jarring sound of your own destruction keeps you focused to complete the stage as you try again.
The astral theme prevails to the level-select screen too. Presenting a constellation of stages, often splitting off into multiple directions, the surrounding environment determining what you’ll be up against. For instance one area is surrounded by a gas cloud, providing challenges where you have limited visibility. It’s nice to have the choice to switch between levels, if you get bored with a certain area.
Last but not least Salmi Games have also provided a simple to use level editor along with steam workshop support. A nice start for someone who might want to experiment with some simple level design. There is definitely enough depth in the mechanics to create some entertaining levels. While there are only 17 levels on the steam workshop as of now, there are already some good examples of creative design.
All in all, Salmi Games have created a punchy addictive game with striking graphics and fun gameplay. However I cannot help but think something is lacking here, for an abstract game focused on mechanical interaction an element of personality is lost. Perhaps that is just my own personal preference, for me it needs to go a little bit further in order to be memorable. Salmi Games have shown they can make a polished title, and I’m sure future endeavours will show their true potential.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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