Alteric is a game which is heavily influenced by a few popular games, mainly Thomas was alone and Super Meat Boy. If you have played both of these titles then you will know how different they are, one is a calm and relaxing narrative adventure and the others is a brutal death simulator! Goonswarm (the developer) has partnered with Sometimes You (Publisher) and brought their brutal platformer to Sonys consoles and PC but is it Meaty or Dramatic? Let’s find out…
There is no story in Alteric, it’s simply a pick-up-and-play title which gets you into the action very quickly. You control a small white square in silhouette-style environments with the main objecting being to get from point A to point B without dying. It sounds simple enough but if you have read my reviews on previous Sometimes You published games then you will know that they tend to favour those which like to mess with you. This game is no exception – the difficulty isn’t as bad as Super Meat Boy but some levels do get you frustrated. It is a fairly easy set of platinums though (two on PS4 and two on Vita, just like Spiral Splatter), you will just die quite a few times as you try and achieve them.
Alteric takes on board various mechanics from other popular indie titles such as one hit deaths, the introduction of more difficult obstacles as you get further, and a lot of platforming. One thing this game does introduce, which is fairly unique and a pretty good mechanic, is the ability to switch between dimensions in time. The way this works is a little like the game Hue, the default world has its own platforms and hazards. If you come to a dead end you simply press a button and the world will change colour which will cause certain platforms to disappear and new ones to appear or even whole walls or hazards to vanish. This basically changes the game from being a simple platformer into being more of a puzzle game in which you must think and try and work out the solution based on timing and platforming combined.
This mechanic also has its downsides though – you don’t know what platforms are going to appear/disappear until you hit the button so there have been times where the platform you are standing on will vanish and you will land on spikes or it removes the roof protecting you from being shot by a laser. Luckily, respawn is instantaneous and you have infinite lives so trial and error is allowed – it’s just not fun if you have just overcome a difficult part and then are presented with a cheap death which you had no control over. I feel the game could have pulled off the increase in difficulty a little better as some levels come down to pixel-perfect timing and platforming, but all-in-all the mechanic itself works great.
Later on, Alteric throws in buttons to alter gravity as well, this reminds me of ‘VVVVVV’ where you can press a button and your direction of gravity is reversed and you’re walking on the ceiling – only in this case it’s a physical button your character has to press and not a button on the gamepad. The levels continue to offer variety as you progress, offering hazards such as hordes of enemies chasing you, blades, spikes and laser beams. These all go towards making the levels more difficult and frustrating. Once you have died multiple times in the same level though, you begin to get accustomed to the timings and the way the game works – this makes the platforming segments a lot easier until the next obstacle is thrown at you.
This brings me to the biggest issue I had whilst playing on the PS4 – your character felt like he was either walking on ice or maybe the square is an ice cube? The controls are very sensitive and you seem to have momentum which means you don’t stop instantly when you stop moving the controller stick. This resulted in a lot of deaths which, once again, were out of my control. This is just another thing which won’t make any difference to you once you have got used to the controls and how they work, but when you first start playing, expect to die a lot. Everything seems to be very pixel perfect, just like in Super Meat Boy, so if you are a little bit off then expect to do the level over and over again.
Graphically, Alteric is very basic – which isn’t a bad thing. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, the game bears a striking resemblance to games such as Thomas Was Alone with its silhouette styled gameplay with strong, bold colours being used to contrast the dark, black platforms. Your square is a very bright white, which is also a great contrast to the platforms, with little particle effects which come off you as you jump about. Graphically then, I really like the way it looks with its simplistic design. The game also seems to run above 1080p on a 4k TV (or if you have supersampling enabled in FW 5.50 or above) giving it an even sharper image.
Sound wise, they have opted for a few unusual choices here. To begin with, the soundtrack is great – it’s like an electro-funk style soundtrack which strangely matches the feel of the game. The unusual aspect is the sound effects – your character (the square) appears to be a living thing as every jump you make results in a slight “urgh” vocal sound being delivered. It’s quite strange and I imagine it was used as a generic jumping sound – but the fact it’s coming from a cube is a bit unusual. Other than that, the only other sound you’ll hear is your character getting killed.
Trophy wise, as I said above – Alteric is like Spiral Splatter, you can purchase four versions of the game – PS4 and PS Vita in North America and the PS4 and PS Vita version in Europe – they are all separate purchases, no cross-buy, and they all have their own platinums – so with the restriction of the PS Vita not allowing other regions digital games, you can obtain up to three platinums. The average time on PSNProfiles appears to be less than an hour to obtain the platinum if you use the guide they have on their site. So, yet another great game if you like hunting those trophies!
Alteric was a fun little game to play and I would recommend it to trophy hunters purely for its quick platinum. If you sit back and play it from beginning to end without the guides that are out there then you will get more out of the game as you will have to figure out how to proceed on your own. As a whole, it’s a short, challenging platformer which should last you a few hours under normal conditions and at times can really frustrate you, however, it will have you coming back for more until you beat it as even though it has flaws with the controls and level design, it’s actually quite fun.