I’m always happy to see a game that attempts at breaking the norm. The concept of getting coins in video games is so instinctual that it isn’t even a consideration; you just do it. That’s why I’m equally excited and disappointed that I can’t gleam anything special from the Rising Dusk demo.
Sounds Interesting… Right?
Developed by Studio Stobie and currently on Kickstarter, this project is presented as “An anti-coin collection platformer“. That’s right, a platformer that doesn’t want you to collect coins. Surely this is almost unheard of! If you’re like me, I’m sure you couldn’t wait to see what Rising Dusk does with such a concept. At the moment, however, I can’t say it much far.
The problem isn’t that the demo is bad, it’s more that it doesn’t seem to have much going for it. The gameplay takes the form of a side-scrolling platformer where getting coins is discouraged by linking them to what you can and can’t walk on. Littered throughout each level are numerically labeled blocks that will react to the player’s progress. Lets say you try to stand on a block labeled “4”, for instance. If you have less than 4 coins the block will stay solid, but if you have 4 or more the block will disappear and you’ll fall right through – usually to your death!
Rising Dusk uses this to create situations where you reach the end of a level with zero coins, only to find a collectible trapped between high numbered blocks. You’re now force to backtrack, trying to get only the coins you need, where you need them. You could just go on to finish the level but it feels like the devs wanted you to at least try to get each collectible a couple times.
The Problem: Simplicity
What I just discussed is an interesting concept, but the issue arises when you notice the lack of other mechanics. For example – at least in the demo – the player and enemies can’t attack each other, which mostly leads to you ignoring their existence altogether. This, combined with some lackluster level design, makes for a rather mundane experience.
There’s then the issue of movement. Something about the character just doesn’t feel right, almost like you’re walking on a thin sheet of ice whenever you move. Due to this, I died much more than I should have on certain platforming segments.
It might sound like I’m glossing over this game or that I’m leaving some things out, but you have to believe me when I say there wasn’t very much going on here gameplay-wise. It’s a shame, because I think this game has some great potential. A couple more mechanics with some tweaks to the already existing ones and Studio Stobie would have something very unique in their hands.
The Silver Lining
Rising dusk is not all bad, mind you! The music managed to get me humming to myself at several points; the title screen specifically has a really nice track that I still want to listen to. The pixel art is also rather pleasant! It’s simplistic, but in a good way – with some levels containing oddly relaxing backdrops. I can see the full game having some even nicer locations.
Overall, the demo didn’t really impress me. It wasn’t bad by any means; just bland. I hope the full game makes the most of the idea and I’ll be looking out for it’s release. As it stands, however, all I can see is untapped potential!