Tumbleseed Review: Roll-like
Kalvin Martinez / Jul 25th, 2017 No Comments
The Nintendo Switch is only getting better thanks to an expanding library of games. But the wait between major titles is too long. What the console needs is a strong indie presence to round out its game collection. That is what makes Tumbleseed the perfect game for Switch right now.
Tumbleseed is unique, compelling and gorgeous. It’s a roguelite with a twist, and it is something you need to play.
Balance is a pervading motif in Tumbleseed. It isn’t simply the key to the title’s unique gameplay mechanic, but it also extends to the story. The narrative is subtle and cryptic. It begs to be uncovered and assembled by the player.
You learn about the mythology and the world by talking to NPCs in the moments between levels. Remembering what seemingly throwaway line a NPC said in the town is important. Those details help you figure out exactly what’s happening in the game. The story never gets in the way of the gameplay, instead balancing it out.
As a seed you are round and highly adept at rolling, but climbing the mountains won’t be easy. To move up the mountain, you need to raise a long platform by moving either end. However, moving one end at a time means you upset the balance and start rolling. This is the difficulty of gameplay.
Rolling wouldn’t be such a big deal if the mountain wasn’t filled with holes and enemies out to ensure you fail. Balance is key to successfully climbing, but it takes quick reflexes, flexibility and shrewd strategy to avoid the pitfalls stopping you from reaching your goal.
Practice Makes Perfect
While balance is a huge part of Tumbleseed’s gameplay, it isn’t the only aspect of it. Strategy and resource management is necessary to pass the game. The mountain is littered with things trying to prevent you from reaching the top, but it is impossible to deal with each of them. In order to be successful, you will need to pick your battles.
You aren’t simply a seed — well you are, but you have powers that can be used to help you achieve your goal. At first, you have a basic arsenal: an attack power, an ability to create checkpoints, a way to heal, and a means to gain resources to fuel your powers.
To use these powers you need to hit access points that can be difficult to reach. They are typically located near holes or a swarm of enemies. Evaluating the risk versus reward of gaining power versus climbing is a constant worry.
Knowing when and how to use your powerups is vital to staying alive, especially as you gain more advanced, resource-heavy powers. The rougelite elements not only extend to the levels where you are climbing a new layout each reboot, but to the powers you’ll encounter and the ways you’ll be able to deal with the challenges the mountain has.
Power is valuable, which is why it comes with a high price. Using powerups consumes crystals, but the more advanced ones cost more. Managing your crystals takes forethought, planning and strategy, and this can be hard while you’re trying to avoid holes and enemies.
While recovering or hording hearts may feel useful, protecting yourself can be the difference between making it to the next town and death, and there is nothing more disheartening than getting close but making one mistake and not checkpointing. The basics of switching between powers and amassing crystals (to gain crystals with the crystal powerup takes three access points) is a huge trade off.
Effectively managing what, how and when you’re using each powerup is what will keep you alive and moving high up the mountain. It is all a difficult balancing act in every respect. Only through practice and hard work can you start to make a dent into your ascent.
Tumbleseed is one of the more intriguing roguelites to be released in a long time. The unique balance mechanic demands as much practice and perfect execution as the procedural run structure. It combines the infuriating difficulty of a roguelite with the precision of a platformer. All of this is wrapped up in a charming and stylish package.
It is an excellent pick-up-and-play game for the Nintendo Switch, and a great addition to any Switch owner’s library.
Tumbleseed was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer
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