Written by guest writer and friend of the site, Jonathan Davis.
As the name would suggest, Concursion is a 2D genre-swapper by freshman developer Puuba. Set to release later this year on PC and Mac, this title blends five classic genres – platforming, bullet-hell, brawler, what they call “aerial exploration,” and essentially just Pac-Man – into one game. The figure of speech truly applies here, with the version I played being a prime example of a jack of all trades and master of none.
The concept is not at fault, as Concursion has potential in that regard. Unfortunately, that potential is buried beneath clunky, difficult-to-remap controls, questionable writing, lack of adequate checkpointing and an art style that could use a second look. The music, however, is interesting and memorable enough to draw the player’s attention thanks to an “Emmy-nominated composer” I couldn’t track down.
Running, jumping or flying through nostalgia-inducing, 2D levels and using “cohesive interdimensionality” (the developer’s term for genre-swapping) to reach previously inaccessible parts of a level sounds exciting, but none of these mechanics quite scratch an itch neither myself nor the developer can pinpoint. The interdimensional rifts can be jarring at times, with no incentive to risk your life grabbing collectibles and no reason to rack up a high score. It seems as though the levels are a medium for the plot to progress, not a complement to it.
Concursion has a kind of draw to it, even with its many problems. It could be my familiarity with intense platformers like Super Meat Boy or Electronic Super Joy that makes it particularly difficult to stop, but the fact that there’s no checkpointing to speak of prevented me from finishing the preview build provided to Scanline. Getting repeatedly melted by lava pits and hit by Mario-derivative bullets only to be sent back to the beginning of the level can really drain one’s enthusiasm for a product, regardless of how stubborn the player may be.
Again, the build of Concursion I played was unfinished; that much is obvious. Above all, I hope Puuba doesn’t get discouraged if this title doesn’t sell how they’d like. The concept is an interesting one, and that’s more than you can say for a lot of games these days, indie or not.