Regardless of its status as an RPG manufacturing facility, Sq. Enix has dabbled in quite a few different genres previously, however Balan Wonderworld is among the writer’s greatest departures in latest reminiscence. The brainchild of former Sonic producer Yuji Naka and his new staff, Balan Firm, Balan Wonderworld is a kaleidoscopic platformer rife with collectables. It is a far cry from Sq. Enix’s conventional output, however there are glimmers of potential here–as effectively as some causes for concern.
We had an opportunity to play an early entry model of the upcoming , which options 4 ranges throughout three worlds and one early boss battle. Virtually from the outset, faint traces of Naka’s earlier collection may very well be felt in Balan Wonderworld. As in Sonic, worlds are damaged up into separate “acts,” and one of many recreation’s costumes even offers you the power to unleash a Sonic-like mid-air lock-on assault.
Regardless of these preliminary similarities, nevertheless, Balan Wonderworld is by and huge a extra methodical form of platformer, emphasizing exploration and merchandise assortment over the fast-paced, high-flying spectacle present in Sonic the Hedgehog. The sport’s signature hook is its huge array of costumes. Every one you accumulate grants a distinct energy; one costume, for example, allows you to carry out a twister leap that may destroy sure blocks and repel twister assaults again at enemies, whereas one other allows you to float via the air and journey updrafts.
These costumes are integral in exploring Balan Wonderworld’s completely different phases. Many areas of a degree can solely be accessed by donning a selected outfit; put on the Gear Prince costume, for instance, and you may rotate clockwork levers, opening sure doorways or shifting parts of the surroundings into place. Different costumes have been used to comparable impact, and the very best moments within the demo concerned buying a brand new skill and utilizing it to succeed in a beforehand inaccessible space, illustrating the potential this concept holds.
Balan Wonderworld Reveal Trailer | Xbox Video games Showcase 2020
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Your goal in every act is to finally navigate the stage and attain the aim on the finish, selecting up numerous collectibles alongside the best way. A very powerful of those are the Balan Statues, which perform as Wonderworld’s equal of Mario’s Energy Stars. Snag sufficient statues and the sport’s hub space will regularly unfurl, unlocking new worlds so that you can discover.
Though solely three worlds have been accessible within the demo, every felt distinct and have been tailor-made round completely different costume talents. The primary world in particular–an summary farmstead dotted with haystacks, overgrown ears of corn, and big watering cans–employed a cool visible impact. In Act 1, the terrain would rise and become visible as you approached, whereas in Act 2, it will unroll earlier than you, including to the dream-like environment of the sport.
The visuals and aesthetic of Balan Wonderworld provide a whole lot of attraction, however the precise platforming itself when exploring these worlds felt just like the weakest facet of the demo. Your character runs very slowly, and so they have poor traction, which makes motion really feel considerably slippery. Leaping additionally lacks a sense of momentum, and juggling costumes could be a bit cumbersome. You’ll be able to have as much as three completely different outfits at your disposal without delay and swap between them with a press of a shoulder button, however any extra costumes you choose up after that may substitute one in your stock. Fortunately, pads that allow you to entry a dressing room (the place you may swap out costumes) are sprinkled all through the phases within the demo, however you will nonetheless usually have to retrace your steps to succeed in these.
Furthermore, the costumes you purchase aren’t everlasting. Very similar to the power-ups in Mario, you will lose your present costume in the event you fall into an abyss or are struck by an enemy, which suggests you will have to both discover that costume once more or hoof it again to a dressing room and equip a spare one. This wasn’t a lot of a problem within the demo, as costumes appeared pretty plentiful within the accessible phases, however some outfits are solely accessible in particular worlds–meaning in the event you return to an earlier degree with a brand new costume in tow to gather a beforehand unreachable Balan Statue and find yourself shedding that outfit, you will be out of luck except you’ve a backup.
That stated, the Balan Wonderworld demo represents a small, work-in-progress pattern of the challenge, so it stays to be seen if these points will persist within the last recreation. There is a strong basis for a novel and satisfying platformer right here, as long as Sq. and Balan Firm can fine-tune among the gameplay points within the demo. Balan Wonderworld launches for PS5, Xbox Collection X/S, PC, Nintendo Swap, and last-gen consoles on March 26, whereas the free demo goes stay on every platform on January 28.