For the last 10 or so days, The Indie Toaster has been frozen in place. This short break let us catch a much-needed breath and allowed us to restructure our website. Our entire team spent hours finding new games that we could all play and researching new topics for our features.While doing my part, I eventually laid eyes on Maddening Euphoria‘s Steam page.
This title’s tiny price is definitely what caught my attention. What must have reeled me in, though, was the colorful and hectic trailer. I was sold on it before I could even get to the description box.
Given that premise, I decided to dedicate my next article to this somewhat out of the ordinary indie project. I happily opened my wallet, purchased a copy, and proceeded to download it.
“Fuck it”, I thought while the game installed. “Just how bad can this one turn out to be?”
So Much To Choose From!
At least where I’m from, 99 cents won’t let you go far. You could step into a candy store and walk out with 9 pieces of licorice, but that’s as much as you’ll ever get. When I saw that Maddening Euphoria would have cost me less than a cup of espresso, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it. Against all odds, though, I was soon staring at a rather polished and inviting main menu.
Built to resemble the arcades of old, this title could only be described as a balanced mix of running and platforming. With no more than two fingers, players control what seems to be an unnamed pair of siblings. Whatever these two are doing apparently forces them to risk their skin on a series of deadly circle-shaped obstacle courses.
The concept behind Maddening Euphoria is rather simple: keep going forward, jump to avoid an early demise, and survive as long as you humanly can. Traps, pits, spikes, and dead ends all play a major role in deciding how long – or rather how short – your character’s existence is. Additionally, the many levels that this game offers are all procedurally generated. Learning their layouts by heart and exploiting muscle memory are both off the table.
As unbelievable as it might sound, all of the above is just a fraction of what today’s title packs. The devs went all out with it and added several game-modes as well as specific challenges. More than 30 “themes” – which in their essence reshape the levels and introduce new obstacles – also made it to the final version. Based on content and mechanics alone, Maddening Euphoria was already worth a lot more than what I had paid for it.
Drop That Bass!
When Elisa interviewed German composer Neon Insect, she received a hail of flack. Confessing how she usually mutes in-game music might have been a tad controversial, but I couldn’t agree more with it. Especially among indie developers, some simply can’t understand the importance and effects of a solid soundtrack. As a result, the music feels out of place and players try their best to dispose of it.
On the contrary, the people at Chequered Ink must have spent a good deal of time planning everything out. Far from belonging to one of my favorite genres, Maddening Euphoria’s electronic soundtrack simply nails it. I wish I could enthrall you with a long chat over writing techniques or simply send you a link, but neither of those things will happen. All you can do is take a look at the following trailer, trust me or try it out for yourself.
Rarely have I heard a collection of musical scores that fitted what was happening on screen so well. There’re basses dropping out of nowhere whenever the pace picks up and melodic tunes lulling you through the slower parts of the game. Even silence is perfectly employed to highlight a sudden death or a shocking moment.
This anthology might well deserve its own release. It is the perfect accompaniment to a surprisingly dynamic game and an album that I’d have no problem buying just to play it while training, studying or commuting. Having spent a good time listening to it sparks the usual question: developers, why aren’t you selling it as DLC already?
Anything Wrong With This Game?
If all you wanted out of this review was a chance to know whether the game would be worth it, this is your stop. In fact, you can dismount here, visit the title’s store page, buy a copy, and spend the rest of your day playing it. I doubt anyone would regret doing that. Still, our article wouldn’t be complete without a touch of genuine feedback. At The Indie Toaster, we also try to leave developers with something.
As much as I loved Maddening Euphoria, I couldn’t help but notice a few flaws with it. Some – such as the fact that your character will seldom run into their death without giving you any chance to predict that – were minor and did little to harm gameplay. Others, instead, looked a lot like missed opportunities!
The total lack of a multiplayer/split-screen mode, for instance, left me somewhat baffled. Worldwide leader-boards offer a bit of a challenge, but this title seemed to be born with local couch gaming in mind! I know I would have loved to throw a geeky party and have that game on screen for everyone to play. I really wonder why the devs would choose not to capitalize on that!