Symbiote

As you know, it’s been slow on this site. Me and my partner in crime are still working on IGMC stuff and eventually something I make will be the one getting roasted. Until I pay for my crimes, let’s check out more past IGMC stuff.

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While you’re all playing Super Mario Odyssey, I was playing Symbiote a nice short platformer. It was made by Jason Perry (also known as finalbossblues) and it was the 3rd place winner of IGMC 2015.

Your character, Aubrey, wakes up in a destroyed quarantine lab in a facility on an alien world. The facility was set up by human colonizers looking for a good place for humanity to resettle and they discovered the eponymous symbiote, who had busted out to wreak havoc. And so, you move out with Aubrey, who happens to have a bit of the symbiote stuck to her.

This is the game that finally had me set up my PlayStation controller as a game pad, since it’s highly recommended. Movement in the game is real smooth and responsive, something that felt more natural with a controller. You can play with a keyboard, which I did try, but it felt kinda off-putting. The only time when platforming isn’t so smooth is after you unlock the wall-jumping power; if you’re too close to a wall when you jump towards it, you sort of cling to it immediately, which throws off any momentum you’d have. Aside from that, I really enjoy the game’s sense of movement.

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You can also do some punches and kicks and I’m sort of surprised by the number of animations Aubrey has for it. She’s got a punching animation, one for punching when running, an uppercut, aerial kicks, etc. There’s a surprising amount of work to appreciate.

It’s kind of a shame though, because you aren’t likely to be doing much fighting. There are enemies on your path to beat up, but you can just sort of jump right past them. They give you these energy sparks that you can use to increase your max health, but you can not only just find them normally, but they respawn after switching screens. There’s also only one actual boss fight in the game and it’s a pretty simple one at that.

Really, most of the game’s challenge comes from the platforming segments, with a lot of the enemies just sorta being there. In fact, the final, hardest stretch of the game is a tough platforming segment where you’re chased by a wave of the symbiote, with no enemies or bosses in sight. The focus on platforming isn’t a bad thing at all, especially since movement’s a strong part of the game, I just kinda wish that there could have been more combat.

There are three powers that you’re railroaded into getting: the aforementioned wall-jump, the ability to teleport a few feet in any direction and a screw attack (which further trivializes the need to use proper fighting moves) that also acts as a double jump. I gotta say, after getting all three powers, platforming got real fun with the flexibility they grant you. Like, you can’t wall-jump off the same wall in succession, but you can wall-jump, double jump, teleport a few feet up, then wall-jump again with a large gain in vertical ground. I still contend that wall-jumping feels off when you’re pressed directly against a wall, but for the most part, it’s all good.

There’s a story to the game, though a lot of it is backstory stuff locked to optional terminals that contextualizes the setting. Ignoring those terminals, you’re just kinda wandering around the facility, for the most part. Thankfully, this means that the flow of the game isn’t being disrupted a lot, which I appreciate.

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There are also a bunch of hidden collectibles that you can obtain. You don’t actually get anything for getting all of them and to be honest, some of them felt too easy to get to feel like an extra challenge. But you know, they’re there. I’m mad about seeing a helix fossil in the year 2017, but yeah, I got it.

I think the game has a nice visual style and as I mentioned before, I dig the work put into the main character’s animations. The visuals are accompanied by music made by Shizu, whose music I think is used pretty well. There’s that action music on the title screen to get you geared for the game which transitions into a piano melody as Aubrey awakens in a destroyed lab, granting a somber mood as you set out into the game proper with more atmospheric music to accompany it. Generally, presentation is pretty strong.

For the most part, Symbiote is a pretty complete game. Like that Nanuleu game I checked out, it feels like the game did most, if not all of the things it set out to do, and while I kinda wish that there was more in some areas, I ended the game feeling satisfied. Like a lot of IGMC-made games, you can finish this game in an hour, so it’s a short but sweet ride to play.

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