Melbits World, from the aptly named Melbot Studios, is one of the latest PlayLink titles on the PS4 and mobile devices. Just like the previous PlayLink titles, all the action takes place on your TV screen with up to four players joining in via their mobile device, be it a tablet or phone. However, also just like a few of the other titles, this is a game for two to four players ONLY – there is no single player mode included so be sure to grab some friends or your family before you begin!
As soon as you take a look at Melbits World you’ll fall in love with the cute aesthetic and design. Also, it’s yet another game from the PS Talents program over in Spain, a program set up to help indie developers bring their games to PlayStation first just like we’ve seen with games like Deiland, Flynn & Freckles, Timothy vs the Aliens and more, in the past.
Melbits World is a game about working together with up to three other players in order to help keep your Melbits alive and get them to the exit pipe so they can escape within a set time. Sounds easy? Well, it isn’t! Despite its cute look and loveable nature, this game is almost a bigger cause for arguments in your family than Overcooked 2! You have to remain in communications with the other players and you have to all work together to ensure one person doesn’t accidentally push one of the little guys into the water, bounces them off into the vast abyss of nothingness, or simply opens the path for an evil black monster to come and gobble up your new buddy!
To get started, what do you need? At the moment you’ll need a PS4, an Android or iOS device and at least one other human (unless you’re Goro as he could probably play with himself via his four arms!) It does appear that Melbits World is also coming to PC sometime in the future so if you don’t have a PS4, keep an eye out for that!
Once you’ve all downloaded the App (which are here: Android / iOS) and booted up the game, then it’s time to take a picture of your lovely faces and pick your favourite Melbit. This doesn’t affect anything but your Melbit will appear in-game as one of the four who you’re trying to save. You can even unlock new hats and variations of their blobby-bodies as you progress.
So, what is Melbits World?
Is it a Captain Toad-a-like but on non-Nintendo systems? Kinda… In Captain Toad you could freely move our tubby toadstool around the cubed world as you spun it around and collected all the coins with your fully controllable character. In Melbits World imagine Captin Toad crossed with Lemmings or Pop-up Pilgrims on the PSVR. You have no direct control over the Melbits, they will continue to walk in one direction until they hit a wall or belly-flop with another Melbit, in which case they will promptly turn around and walk in the other direction until the same thing happens. Luckily, they will automatically turn corners and not jump off the edge of the world, well, not unless they reach a point they would walk over yet you’ve removed the platform – in those cases, they will commit suicide!
The players are in control of one or two (depending on the number of players) of the mechanics which help out our podgy pals. So, if you’re playing with one other person then you’ll have control of two sets of mechanics, one may raise and lower blocks, spin a platform, or even thrust your Melbit into the air via a trampoline. If there are four of you then you all get one set of mechanics, so playing with more players could technically make it a little easier. Basically, it’s a rather advanced puzzle game hidden behind simple ‘Bop-it’ type controls which requires you to all work perfectly in sync if you wish to save the cuddly companions from dying.
If/when you fail a level, the mechanics are usually swapped between the players as well, something we saw in the co-op mode of Octodad. This keeps you on your toes and ensures everyone has the chance to operate the various different things on the screen.
In terms of the actual gameplay part of the game, this is all done via your mobile device rather than on the TV. You’re given a very simplistic display with two sides, which can be swapped if you only have the ability to use one hand for some reason. I’ve played through a decent chunk of the game with my parents at weekend – they’re not very good at it and my mum did rage quit a few times – so these are the various ‘functions’ I’ve seen so far.
Button: Your standard button which appears on the screen in which you tap to push it in. These control sliding platforms. I’ve used these platforms to both accidentally and purposely push Melbits off paths and either onto other ones or to their death, as well as to raise them up to new routes. These are also used to block the black evil ‘virus’ from getting to your fluffy Melbits and eating them up.
Sliders: These control the trampolines. The more you pull the slider back, the more thrust you’ll give the unsuspecting Melbit who walks over the bounce-pad. There is a strategy to this though as sometimes you have to wait until a Melbit has turned before throwing them in the air, and other times you need to only throw them with half the power so they can access new areas or bonus presents.
Turning: This is the mechanic my mother couldn’t get her head around. You have to literally turn your device either left or right and the accelerometer inside will rotate certain items when you turn it a certain amount of degrees. I’ve seen this process used to rotate a water-based log bridge (which the Melbits will still jump onto, even if it’s not in position and kill themselves) and also rotate a suspended log bridge which must be twisted so they can walk across it.
Spinning wheel: This was the last new mechanic we got to. You have a circle on your device and you need to spin it round and round in order to move platforms and lift elevators. It’s like a crank which you’re turning in order to raise and lower things.
There are most likely a lot of other mechanics in play, but they’re the ones I saw at weekend in our 2 hours or so of gameplay.
I simply adore the colourful aesthetics of Melbits World! It reminds me of Captain Toad crossed with The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and any Mario/Yoshi game on the Wii U/Switch. It’s just so colourful, bright, cheery and fun. The game ran great on both our PS4 Pro and base PS4 with no performance issues, crashes, or glitches. The app itself also ran with no issues on my iPhone 6s, my mums iPhone 5c and my dads iPad mini 2. The developers do recommend you should be on Android 4.4 in order to play the game on those devices and not all android devices are supported. In the case of an Android device, I would advise you to download the app first and see if it works, before buying the game.
Soundwise, Melbits World has a limited amount of music but it’s very jolly and keeps you happy and entertained whilst you’re shouting at the other players for pushing your favourite Melbit into the water! Each of the Melbits also has their own voice which you’ll hear as you play via the occasional “Woohoo”, “yeah”, and “weeee” as you throw them all over the place. It’s all very cute and family friendly.
One other aspect to bring up is the connectivity between the app and the game as you need to be able to connect in order to play! I’m happy to say that there were no issues at all with this. As long as your phones are connected to the same wifi then they’ll pick up the game and connect directly. If you do have any issues, you can scan a QR code on the loading screen and your app will connect directly to your PS4’s IP address. Alternatively, if you don’t have a router or the game just won’t find your devices, you can choose to turn your PS4 into a hotspot within the games menu and connect directly to your PS4 that way.
I really enjoyed Melbits World both solo and with my parents. Now, I know what you’re going to say – “But Rob, you said it has to be played with two or more people unless you’re Goro… Rob, are you Goro?” – to which I’ll answer, sadly not. However, I did connect up both my iPad and iPhone and Managed to complete about 10 levels on my own! It’s not the recommended way to play it as I had four mechanics to look after, all operating up to two platforms/blocks at a time, all whilst trying to efficiently help my Melbits escape! To be honest, the game became about 100 times more fun when I was playing it with others as the constant shouting at/to each other was half of the enjoyment – just like in Overcooked 2.
I won’t lie though, at first, when I saw PlayStation Access play this and I saw the cute graphics, I thought this was going to be a piece of cake and we would fly through it with no issues – boy was I wrong! the game is brutal and really unforgiving. If you don’t have eyes on all of your Melbits and know exactly what each action on your devices do, you’re bound to kill a few of these unsuspecting guys without even realising it! Melbits World starts off nice and easy and then you’ll get to a level which is there purely to test you – not only must you let two our of the four Melbits survive, but why not try and collect the present and the other collectables as well? Oh, and here’s a black virus character to stalk them and maybe a place where they will jump to their death if you’re not looking…
Regardless of the difficulty though – if you have three other competent gamers (my parents don’t play many games) then you’ll probably get through it a lot easier than I did, especially with a lot less screaming and name calling! Melbits World is a great game to get out when you have some mates around – especially when they can all use their phones as controllers. Maybe make it more interesting and have the person who kills a Melbit take a shot everytime they commit a murder? Obviously, that suggestion is only for the 18+ readers of this review, if you’re below 18 then maybe have a shot of milk or get a dead arm? Kids these days still do dead arms, don’t they?
Melbits World is a great multiplayer game for people of all ages who have access to an iOS or Android device. Sure, the game gets a bit frustrating and difficult as you move throughout the various levels, but that’s the fun of it! If you liked stressful, yet entertaining, games such as Overcooked 2 then you’ll love Melbits World. The fact you can even customise your own Melbit before you begin playing is a small feature which makes the game more interactive and relatable as you can unlock new features to represent yourself in-game. This also gives you a reason to save the Melbits – it’s your best buddy now, don’t let your mate push him off the world and to its death!
If you have access to a compatible device and another human then I’d highly recommend you try Melbits World out. It uses the PlayLink features perfectly and creates a nice balance between tension, conflict and co-operation in every level between all participants.
**Since release, the team have provided us with quite a few patches. One of these added a new level select which can be performed with the app on your phone. As such, this has been removed from my rating down below.**
- Very cute looking, colourful, and bright
- Lots of fun when playing with multiple people, even though it can lead to arguing!
- The customisations are cute
- Nice music and humorous voices
- The app is used in a good way and synced up fine first time
- Can't be played on your own (officially) as it's 2-4 players only
- There were a few difficulty spikes when I played but it could be down to my other players...