Platformines is a game that feels like it’s designed with love and affection, bringing in all the good ideas from the various roguelike-likes and indie platformers that have been cropping up lately, but it’s one thing to put these ideas together, it’s another to actually pull it off in a way that feels fun.
With Platformines you start the game by loading into a randomised map somewhere in a mine. It’s up to you to then follow the instructions of an old man and use his help to rebuild your spaceship. Along the way you’ll encounter the beasties that lie within the mines, as well as the humans presumably looking for treasure. It’s a basic premise that suits this type of game and thankfully you don’t need much to get going, it’s the adventure that follows that’s supposed to be what you take away from it.
That’s the thing with Platformines though. Even though the environments and some of the games features are kind of unique, like the small tidbits of sci-fi (when you die, a clone takes over), it’s the game itself that’s just rather dull. “We’ve been here before,” is what I kept telling myself. I’ve done this before and other games like SteamWorld Dig or Spelunky have done the whole exploration of mines way better.
Platformines is primarily a platforming game with light RPG and shooting mechanics. You grab loot, which can be equipped to your character or you can sell off junk and the gems you find within the mines to the shop which allows you to buy better equipment. It’s a rather standard affair, but that’s just it, it’s standard in a world where that doesn’t cut it any more.
Other than carrying out the missions set out for you, there’s not much to do other than this. You can’t excavate the mine or create your own path and the platform mechanics themselves, aren’t exactly good. It’s a whole bunch of systems that are thrown in together, hinging on the hope you’ll find the back-and-forth between the mine and shop to get better gear… riveting.
Well, I do find that riveting, fun, enjoyable and all those adjectives, if the game actually provided anything with it. See, once you’ve acquired the standard guns, the only thing that really changes is the stats they come bundled with. There’s no crazy late game weapon and there’s certainly no fun in the combat anyway which really lets Platformines down.
The game promotes a “16-Bit” styled adventure, so I would be lead to believe that when I get hit, there’s a second for me to recover and get my own back in the such tight space given. Nope, instead if you hit an enemy, they’ll continually damage you until death unless you manage to escape their clutches. This is really bad. Because of the tight spaces you’ll actually find yourself in which lead to death by an enemy that you had no chance against, all because you were stuck and your bullets hit everything but the enemy shooting back at you.
Platformines also gives you a shield, which can be used to light the way. While as a concept and on paper I can see how it would be a good idea, but when executed, it’s the thing I hated the most. As you get hit, the shield’s light shrinks down and it’s harder and harder to navigate. Ah, a challenge, I do like them, It reminds me of SteamWorld Dig’s light mechanic. Except, Platformines will dish out the fall damage far more than the counterparts it’s trying to replicate, leading to accidental deaths all because the game stripped you of your only way to properly navigate such a randomised place.
Also, in your equipment from the start is a cyanide tablet, with the description telling you to only use it in the unlikely event you’ll get stuck. It was unlikely that in the five hours it took to finish Platformines, some platforms that move about would thrust me into the floor and into an area I couldn’t escape from. From here I had no choice to use the pill that instantly kills you causing you to respawn back at the starting area. No. This is a really bad way to combat your glitches by punishing me through death to escape your problem.
I don’t hate Platformines, but I certainly don’t like it. There’s plenty of other games in the same vain that do this way better and look much prettier or sound better too. It’s like whenever I try to muster up a feeling about it, my mind turns into this dark void of nothingness and I prefer that over Platformines.
This review was written based on the PC version of Platformines.