Semblance is a smart, fun, and challenging 2d platformer in which you play as a dough like figure, who I’ve named GOO. Players use Goo’s abilities to manipulate the terrain in order to solve puzzles and move on to the next board. The story here is light, but it seems as though some bad stuff went down on Goo’s home planet, and now Goo is trying to collect orbs and solve puzzles in hopes of restoring balance to Goo’s world.
Gameplay is simple enough. You collect orbs that allow you to see which puzzles you’re supposed to solve; then you solve em. From the early going, Goo is able to dash and bang into stuff, which when doing so allows you to manipulate the world to solve puzzles. Semblance’s world is often full of mixed muted colors, but when you find a solid colored area, you’ll know you’re able to manipulate that piece of the world. After finding that, it’s up to you to figure out which way to smash into the world to solve the puzzle. Moves such as dashing into the bottom of the wall, bending the wall upward, and being able to slide your goo body right underneath are what will help you progress. Semblance also does a smart thing about halfway through in how it changes up the gameplay. Keeping it feeling fresh, Semblance adds lasers that will take you out immediately and areas where you aren’t able to use certain abilities. Another thing Semblance does that I found interesting comes a little after what feels like mid-game, and you begin manipulating your own goo self in order to solve the puzzles. So instead of smashing your face into a wall to bend it up, you’ll just smash your body into a pancake and try to slide under and around the puzzles. The puzzles are never that hard, but they’re not a cake walk either. There is enough here to warrant more playtime. I say this because the game clocks it at MAYBE a little over two hours. I wanted more.
It’s worth nothing I was able to play this game on SWITCH, which lends itself perfectly to a game like Semblance. It’s so easy to lay next to my lady and solve some goo puzzles at night, or if you’re public transportation person I imagine this would be perfect to kill twenty minutes before heading into 8 hours of a soul crushing job.
Artistically, I enjoyed the aesthetics of Semblance. The level design and muted color palette really jumped out at me. I’m sure some people will feel the colors to be too bland, but I feel the game wouldn’t have the same feel if its world was colored differently. Goo’s world is in peril and should feel a sense of bleakness; it would be silly to have the landscape look like a Dr. Seuss book. Semblance balances the perfect amount of just enough color to satisfy the eye, but also enough creepy black silhouettes and stark white beady animal eyes peering through the forest. Along with the color scheme, the soundtrack and effects are spot on. Eerie beats help enhance the idea that Goo’s planet has become a different place than the one Goo is used to, and fun time is over.
A couple of nitpicking things; I touched on this but the story is a little thin, and the way the game ends left something to be desired. However, I understand this is a two hour game, so I didn’t expect mass effect level storytelling. Semblance conveys its story through cave paintings, in which you’re left to intuit what has happened to Goo’s planet. This was enough for me, but I could see where some people would want a little bit more. The other nitpick would be the occasional bug; getting stuck in an object, game freezing, etc, but honestly this happened to me so rarely that I didn’t even care. Only once did a bug force me to exit a level, and that did piss me off, but what can you do.
Listen people, Semblance is good. Its art design is sharp, its puzzles are intelligent, it FEELS good to play, and Goo is the shit. Get a switch, get you some Semblance, have a sip of whiskey, and relax. Get on it.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of this review.
Final Score: 9/10
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