An expanded game of Pseudoregalia: Jam Ver.
Sybil finds herself in a distorted castle and must find her own way out. Grow strong and unlock new abilities to build up a deep movement system, fight enemies, find secrets, and uncover the mysteries of Castle Sansa.
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At first, I wasn't all that invested what with how limited your platforming options were; just jumping and eventually sliding. I didn't mind it too much however, as I eventually realized that the mechanics enjoyed precise inputs that were snappy and responsive. Ledge grabs were quite generous, and pole climbing was at the perfect speed you would expect. Once I unlocked more abilities, the game opened up even further, and the many corners of the game slowly opened up to me. What's interesting is that many of the moves you unlock interconnect and allow for various advanced maneuvering techniques. You could ground pound into a high jump, then kick off a wall, then ground pound immediately after, cancel out of it to backflip in the air and land on a high ledge. Even simply bunnyhopping after a long jump is allowed, or backjumping after one will get you even higher. The are many possibilities and ways to experiment.
Your options are pretty limited early on in regards to which paths you're able to take, but once you have most of the basic kit, the world is your oyster and suddenly you can flex with your platforming. The best part? The game allows you to, and will let you outsmart if you happen to think outside the box. The level design compliments many different ways for you to solve its challenges, both in intended and unintended ways. Though you won't be able to progress without certain specific abilities, once you have them, you could go anywhere you want as where your own imagination is your limit. The map is mostly interconnected through many different ways, so it's not that difficult to get where you need to go quickly if you know the way.
Combat is pretty straightforward and simple. You can attack while moving to stay out of harm's way, or even slide and jump if need be depending on the enemy you encounter. There is only one true boss fight in this game, which I did find to be a bit disappointing, but considering how combat isn't the focus, it's not that big of a deal. It's pretty quick, painless, but in the end, fun.
Needless to say, I do have some complaints that I think is holding the game back a little. Perhaps the most minor of offenses is how It is possible to lose your weapon, and the only way to retrieve it would be to head back to a save point. It wouldn't be that much of an issue if the save points weren't so sparse sometimes. This wouldn't be too much of an issue normally, but I'll get to that in the next paragraph. The lighting is too dark in this game, making platforming a lot more difficult. It can be hard to tell if there are openings in certain areas or if those areas are indeed closed off, given the low-poly graphics. One area is completely pitch black unless you find a specific power-up which allows you to illuminate better. I'm not sure if I like this design decision, and even less so is one particular area that had a difficult series of platforming challenges that were quite difficult, with no save point in sight until at the very end. Also, not only is there no button-rebinding in the game, but there's no quick reference on what buttons do in the options? That's kind of a huge deal and there's no excuse for this.
Speaking of said pitch black area, I had a bit of a freak accident which led to a miserable session with this game. In order to see what was ahead, I would toss my weapon to light the path ahead, only to lose it on a ledge and have no save point to help me out for a good while. The level was too dark to see where I was going, and so I bumbled my way through for a solid, but having no weapon meant I was blocked off of areas where it was required and I would have gotten to a save point sooner. I'm not sure what the probability of said accident could happen is, but it could easily be solved by simply giving the player the ability to just re-summon the weapon should they lose it. I went back and forth over whether to dock this game's score over it due to the low probability of repeating it. Under other circumstances, considering how it's still a very real possibility given the accumulation of a few minor design choices I don't really like, leading up to one major situation that did not need to happen and only led to extreme frustration, I would have docked the game over it. That said, I'm still very impressed by this game and only wish for it to succeed. I can let it go especially given the small size of the team working on it as well as just how cheap the game is in the first place.
The most egregious oversight however is the lack of a map, which can make progression all the more frustrating as it's difficult to track where one has to go to make progress often enough, leading to the player running in circles until they bump into what they need to do, or have done enough laps that they are familiar enough with the layout. It's the worst part of a Metroidvania. and thankfully this has been addressed with an upcoming patch which does add a map, but until said update drops, I would honestly recommend looking up a fan-made map should you get lost.
Overall, Pseudoregalia is a masterpiece in its own right that deserves to be recognized among the many indie stars of recent years. There's some minor hiccups here and there, but the game speaks for itself with its full understanding of platforming mechanics. Once the game adds button rebinding as well as a high quality map, I'm willing to come back and give it a slight score boost. Definitely a strong recommendation; you can never go wrong with a game this phenomenal that only costs $6.
My main complaint with the game is there is very little direction. I feel like I might have sequence broke the game at times, except there is no clear sequence to it. In some ways, the lack of direction encourages exploration, which is nice. The problem is many of the rooms look samey, so I felt like I ended up running in circles searching for the next ability. I completely acknowledge this could be a me-problem, but I wanted the environments within a given area to be a little more distinct or easier to map mentally.
Because of its lack of direction and similarity between areas, I never finished the game, even though I feel like I got pretty close to the end. I just didn't want to spend all of my time looking for the last few secrets. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the game up until the very end of wandering aimlessly. I would recommend it purely for those who are interested in the joy of a solid platforming experience. The depth of movement and the situations in which you can use it are delightful.