Penombre Review

Penombre Review

Mar 21, 2014

Penombre is a side-scroller with a dark mission.

For an endless runner, the game relies heavily on it’s theme. It’s a mostly black and white affair, with dark object silhouettes “moving” from right to left as the dark running avatar of Umbra is doing her thing in standard endless runner form. Lighter colors make an appearance, but play second fiddle to the absolutes and red, which mostly signifies dangerous objects. There is a life bar to the upper right and counters to the bottom right and top left.

Umbra, our witch with a knack for exploration, just wants to get home safely, but those red-tinged dangers and deadly animals can be a little difficult. Her most straightforward tool is her jumping ability, which is invoked bypen1 tapping on the screen. Double tapping causes a longer jump, which is useful for the taller dangers. As for the dangers, there are different ones; glowing bushes, trees, objects… anything reddish causes damage to Umbra if she touches them. The spinning blades and rotating scythes look ominous enough, and are matched by bats and rodents flying and running in the opposite direction. As one gets further along, the red dangers predictably appear at shorter intervals and with greater craftiness, and as such, to get through, Umbra will practically be springing triple jump style over stuff.

Jumping also helps access the power ups; things like temporary invincibility and soul magnets; souls are little floating baubles that can be collected by contact and serve as a game currency of sorts. Of course, collecting them can increase the danger due to potential proximity to red dangers, so there is that.

Charm aside, the game feels clunky in parts; the jumping mechanism feels a tad “heavy” and there is something about the graphics that feels forced. It is a bit of a challenge, and while the tutorial is a wwelcome feature, I still think a more streamlined sequencing would work.

Still, at a shade under a dollar, it might be worth a look for those with an eye for simplicity.

Negative Space Review

Negative Space Review

Jan 24, 2012

I was a very early adopter of the Nintendo DS, and one of my favourite games on that system (which I still own) was WarioWare. If you’re not familiar, WarioWare was composed entirely of mini-games. There wasn’t really a story, just little 3-second challenges that were equal parts fun and ridiculous. And my first and enduring reaction to Negative Space is how much it reminds me of WarioWare. That alone made it worth a look to me, but was it enough to keep me playing?

Negative Space is a brain-teasing puzzle game, designed to make you think outside the box, or rather outside the lines. You have two little blobs, one black and one white, and the goal is to get each blog to the flag of its corresponding colour. You do this by drawing lines in either black or white, and thus either push the blobs along, or create paths for them to fall through. White can’t move through white and black can’t move through black, but they can move through each other. It’s a little confusing on paper, which is why the game gives you a few tutorial rounds to get you comfortable.

The game presents challenges in a number of inventive ways. You can be limited in the amount of ink you have. Sometimes you’ll have an abundance of one colour and a lack of the other. Or you can be limited in the number of lines that you draw. It really makes you focus and concentrate to get past each level, and it’s a great brain exerciser.

Negative Space‘s downfall is unfortunately that it is rather a one trick pony. I worked my way through the tutorial levels and by the time I got to the main game I was…kind of bored. The difficulty curve is awfully steep and the game had used up most of my patience before I even got to the levels that count. I think they need to go back in and add a few easier levels at the beginning, to draw people in (pun intended).