Indie Review: Isaac The Adventurer
Isaac The Adventurer is a platformer created by Artisiti d.o.o. in which you play as a young boy embarking on a dangerous journey in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a great adventurer.
- Worth The Time?Yes, it's simple yet very enjoyable platforming.
- Things LovedThe game is very enjoyable, it's fast paced and is satisfying to get through, some good platforming ideas and level design, it boasts a strong challenge for completionists, it's really pretty, the soundtrack is great.
- Things HatedIt can get seriously frustrating in the latter stages of the game, the environments and music can start to feel repetitive as there are only two variations of each, there are some bugs.
- RecommendationThe game does just enough to be worth playing for platforming fans.
- Name: Isaac The Adventurer
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: PC
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Artisiti d.o.o.
- Publisher: Artisiti d.o.o.
- Price: R70.98 (currently on special for R53.21)
- Reviewed On: PC
Isaac The Adventurer is a platformer created by indie developers Artisiti d.o.o. in which you play as a young boy embarking on a dangerous journey in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a great adventurer. The game spans twenty four levels, in which you’ll journey through old temple ruins and an ice-land. The game is reminiscent of old-school platforming, focused dominantly on jumping, skill and timing. But it wraps itself up in a variety of unique elements that, in combination with some good level design and plenty of challenge, make this platformer able to stand on its own feet pretty well.
The idea of the game is straightforward. You’ll run and jump around the levels avoiding traps and falling to your death and collecting coins and gems to increase your score. For each level, you’re given a countdown clock which basically gives you an idea of how quickly the level can be completed, and the faster you do so the more points you get. However, if the countdown reaches zero, you’ll start losing points for taking too long. In each level, you’ll need to find and pick up a key that opens up a portal which allows you to progress to the next level. The key is easy to spot, but depending on the level can be tricky to get. Scattered sparsely throughout levels are checkpoints, which let you respawn from that location upon death, and these are needed more and more as the game gets progressively harder.
As already mentioned, gameplay consists mostly of jumping. You’ll encounter deathly traps, platforms that collapse moments after you touch them, and time intensive sequences that really put your skills to the test. The platforming is very enjoyable and fast paced, and many of the challenges feel satisfying to get through. There are some good platforming ideas in as well, such as the time slow ability you get later on. However, how it works is a little unconventional, which is a good thing. You’ll pick up stopwatches in levels, and these allow you to click on objects such as crushing weights, and slow them down individually. It adds a bit of thought to the game, especially in sequences where you’ve got a number of hazards and you need to work out which one to slow and how you’ll approach it. This gets especially difficult if you’re trying to get a high score and time is a factor, keeping you on your toes. The developers definitely deserve credit for the challenge and variety of platforming sequences on offer.
You also have a knife throw ability, which can be used to hit levers that are out of reach as well as take down any enemies you encounter. However, while these are both nicely implemented, I found that the throwing knives were hardly used effectively, and enemies barely had much presence in the game. There’s only really one enemy type and one use of throwing knives in the environment, and it would have been nice to see more variety or imagination here, especially considering that the platforming is so well-created and diverse. It’s not that much of an issue since platforming makes up the core gameplay, but the use of throwing knives and presence of enemies is a little bit of a missed opportunity.
The game boasts a strong challenge for completionists, and you may find yourself pushed to the limits if you want to get the highest rating on the later levels. Things start out pretty easy and the pacing is really good, but towards the end of the game you probably will want to tear your own hair off. It can get seriously frustrating in the last few levels of the game, and unfortunately it wasn’t all a good spirited challenge. A few sections in the last few levels felt like they relied far more on luck than skill, and took repeated, tiring attempts to get through, to the point that one level, able to be finished in a few minutes, ended up taking well over half an hour to pass. Part of the problem was that some of these sections were too time intensive, mercilessly giving you almost no room for anything but pinpoint precision.
The last level of the game, which is focused on a boss fight, sadly turned out to be my least favourite stage of the game, and it was a real pity because it was actually an awesome level idea and a great way to end the game. The reason was because you need to beat this boss three times, but there are no checkpoints at all in the level. I lost count of how many times I got through the first two sections, the second of which was really intense, and died on the third. It was infuriating beyond belief, and I didn’t see a good reason for this, as it seemed to artificially extend my game time rather than pose a good spirited challenge. The level was challenging enough on its own, and didn’t need this time sink aspect. Even if there was only one checkpoint after the second section, it would have been infinitely improved, but the way it is right now it became more frustrating rather than fun, which was upsetting.
The truth of the matter though is that other than those last few levels, I really enjoyed the rest of the game. A few tweaks here and there and refining of the difficulty in those levels could really ease up the frustration factor. I suppose it does also count in the game’s favour that despite it annoying me to such a high degree towards the end, I kept returning until I beat it. It has a solid length, and it will take you quite some time to get through all twenty four levels. It could take you anything from five to twelve hours depending on your skill level, and as you can see even that’s a very rough estimation. To give a better perspective, there’s plenty of game time here for the average player, and even more for the completionist who wants to obtain the highest rankings and scores. And that’s the best way I can put it.
The game is really pretty, visually speaking. The Unity engine was definitely put to good use, and both the ruins and the ice levels are nicely detailed and really well-made. Animation is smooth, and the game performs fluidly throughout. There are a few bugs here and there, like clipping issues where I once went through a crush weight, but it’s nothing too serious. The audio is another highlight, and the soundtrack is great to listen to, setting quite an epic tone to your adventure. The only issue I had is that the game could have used more variety in its music and environments, as there are only two variations, the ruins and the ice lands. This can make things feel a bit repetitive after extended exposure.
Isaac The Adventurer is both a decent and really enjoyable platformer overall that packs some good ideas and strong level design. However, a little bit more polish and variety in certain areas would make it great. But right now the game does enough enough to be worth playing for platforming fans.