We live in a time where indie/downloadable games are beginning to become a driving force in the gaming industry. They're helping to breathe new life, and it's something that Curve Studios are trying to do with their new title on the PlayStation Network, Explodemon. It's a 2.5D puzzle platformer, which is nothing new but, they're trying to put an interesting spin on things with their "exploding" mechanic. Does Explodemon have what it takes to "explode" onto the scene (I've got a million of these cheesy segues!)?
The title of the game is also the name of the protagonist that you play as. The story begins with a comic book style cutscene that tell us about a race of evil beings known as the Vortex who are invading the land of Nibia, a world of peaceful, albeit naive, people. When it seems that all hope is lost, Explodemon escapes from his prison cell and begins to bring the pain against the Vortex. Explodemon's ability, as his name implies, is to blow stuff up without remorse (which is what landed him in prison in the first place). With the aid of the scientist, Dr. Nitrous, who created Explodemon, the pair set out to destroy the Vortex and put an end to the war all together. Along the way, they find that another one of the scientist's creations, known as Absorbemon (take a wild guess what his power is), has been corrupted by the Vortex and tries to usurp Explodemon's plans at every turn. Through your travels, you will explore 3 different worlds, each with 4 levels.
But let's talk gameplay. Good? Bad? Well, there are things it does right and things it does wrong. Let's start with the good. The control setup is fairly basic. Your left analog stick moves you left and right, the X button jumps and circle triggers your explosion. The physics of the game is based entirely around this concept of the explosion. Pairing it with other button combinations, you can propel yourself HIGH into the air, can boost your running to a massive degree, can combo explosions on enemies, etc. Throughout the game, you gain new abilities, but on the whole you stick with the exploding ability almost exclusively.
While the concept is pretty straight forward, the implementation of the controls feel a bit dodgy at times, especially in the later levels. The response to the buttons that you mash on the controller can be less than accurate at times. I found myself propelling Explodemon into a pool of acid when I intended to jump over it. Then there are the puzzles and platforming. The game is not easy, to say the least. There were sections where you'll die 10-20 times just get to next checkpoint in a level. The frustrating controls were a major factor. Difficultly aside, the gameplay was enjoyable at first, but in the end, it felt plagued by repetition; each level felt (and looked) the same. Every other level, you would face off against Absorbemon and the tactic for defeating him was always the same.
That leads us perfectly into replayability. The single player mode is certainly NOT short. I spent nearly 6 hours just getting through it. On top of that, there are collectibles and time objectives to go back and complete, and based on what I experienced, I can't imagine any of them being easy or quick. There are trophies for achieving these alternate objectives, as is the norm. I can easily say that for a player to go in and try to achieve everything, they would be looking at over 10 hours of extra gameplay. Not bad at all for a downloadable title, but it does feel a bit repetitive.
But how well does it present itself? As mentioned above, the cutscenes were done a comic book style; the artwork of the game also resembles that style. Bold and bright colors are everywhere. The music is catchy and enjoyable and it your standard electro style for these types of games. The sound design was hit and miss for me, though. Some sound effects sounded great and fit the game perfectly, but then there were other times where they sounded lo-fi and out of place. I'm not sure what happened there. I'd have to sum it up with the fact that it's not terrible by any means, but it's not revolutionary or super creative. What it does, it does well; there's no denying that.
I think what might have bothered me the most was Explodemon's dialogue. It's been described as a parody of a poorly translated film/game. This type of humor is some of my absolute favorite as it allows for play on words that are hilarious. However, the implementation of it in the game felt awkward; there were many times I had to sit and stare at the dialogue for a long time before I could understand what was actually being said. Some of them were so obtuse that I never figured them out. A nice try, but not successful for me.
Let's wrap this baby up in a nice little summary with a bow. Explodemon is an interesting experience that, while fun at first, became frustratingly repetitive. The puzzles were well done and extremely challenging in sections and the game does offer an experience that will last quite some time. The presentation was on par (minus the difficult dialogue) and the story was interesting, though not groundbreaking. But the controls and the mechanics get stale after a while and the game loses its sheen.