First Impressions – Semblance (Nintendo Switch)

Semblance is one of those games that draws you in on first glance because of how… weird it looks. It’s kind of gloopy, all purples and pinks and mauves and hints of teal, with curvy lines and random spikes and a pure simplicity in the visual presentation.

And it’s not just the visuals that are simple. In fact, the gameplay mechanic itself is not a difficult concept. You are a blob. You shape the world to make your way through it. The end.

Of course, there’s more to it than that, and it requires a considerable amount of foresight, problem solving, and ingenuity to make the world conform so that you can get where you need to go. Instead of building up, you’re almost deforming—or unmaking—the environment by beating it into submission.

The game is the first developed by South African company Nyamakop, and was described to us as a “playdough platformer,” which is about as accurate as it gets. The whole world is a puzzle.

To get more specific, your avatar jumps around between platforms and obstacles, but rather than interacting with these obstacles or objects, they are reactive to how you control your character. The concept is that the character (aptly named Squish) is collecting essence to bring the soft world where it lives back to life, after it has been infected by hard materials. With each level you complete, you capture more essence and heal the world a bit more.

The other important element is that not only can the world be manipulated, but Squish can also change shape to navigate—though that might have been a bit obvious by the name.

At PAX East, apparently it was the first time a reset feature was added to the game, so that if you’ve messed up your shaping of the space around you, Squish can reform the area back to its original position and you can try again. This adds a bit of clarity, especially at the early stages (ie in the demo we played) and is a nice way to allow for players to be challenged without becoming immensely frustrated during a difficult puzzle.

We also found that there is often more than one way to solve a puzzle—and not even the demo team had seen some of the solutions we came up with. This was a really unique feature that provided an element of surprise and excitement and makes the game actually quite interesting to watch as well as play, because different players will tackle puzzles in new ways.

Semblance is definitely one to watch and will be released on Nintendo Switch and other platforms this July.

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Faith
Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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