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Saviorless

Developer: Empty Head Games

Publisher: Plug In Digital

Action
Adventure
  • Price: $12.99
  • Release Date: Apr 2, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Last on Sale: -
  • Lowest Historic Price: -
  • ESRB Rating: T [Teen]
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    An experience with terrific hand-drawn animation, two distinct styles of play, and the classic feel of cinematic adventure

    Growing up in the 80s and 90s, in the early years of gaming, most of the titles I remember tend to be either in a more arcade-like vein or things like adventures or RPGs. The industry in those years generally kept the action on one side of the fence, and more narratively-driven content on the other. That all began changing relatively early with the likes of Karateka, Prince of Persia, and some others, later followed up by Out of This World and a collection of others. They heralded the emergence and evolution of what I call cinematic adventures, including plenty of action, but blending in more elaborate animations and movement than you’d typically see, as well as often helping to convey the story as a part of the action itself.

    While Saviorless doesn’t perfectly adhere to that format, including a somewhat unusual storyline involving god-like storytellers, there’s no question that the style of its play is right in line with that lineage. The bulk of the time you’ll be playing as the young Antar, working to reach the Smiling Islands and become a savior of his people. For the most part this will involve working on puzzles and various platforming challenges, as he’s too weak for combat but generally nimble enough to avoid and then dispatch his enemies with a bit of guile. These action puzzles tend to have common elements but do a good job of regularly changing up how you’ll need to proceed, keeping you engaged but almost always remaining intuitive so you don’t feel lost. You’ll then periodically take control of a far more formidable savior, capable of dashing and slashing its way through enemies to provide a very contrasting feel to play, which helps to break things up. As things draw to a close these styles of play then merge to bring even more variety to the table, and it’s appreciated.

    While, for the most part, I found this all to make for a compelling package, I will admit to some quibbles as well, though generally pretty minor. Most of them revolve around small timing issues tied to the controls, specifically as you try to crouch and then fall through platforms or grab ledges to then pull yourself up. While there being a small delay for these to kick in is understandable (especially as well as most motions are animated), there can be a bit of hesitation at times with the controls themselves. It’s only an intermittent problem, and it may even just be me, but the fact that it felt inconsistent over the course of my hours made it feel like there’s some aspect of the controls that could be further smoothed over since it resulted in quite a few deaths for various reasons. There were also some instances where the checkpoints felt much further apart than usual, making for more time lost in those sections when you’d die, but at least in general they felt sensible and even quite generous.

    Putting it all together, Saviorless has a generally fluid style of platforming that harkens back to earlier days, though thankfully for the most part feeling much more approachable and less cruel. A healthy mix of platforming action and puzzle solving is featured pretty well throughout, with periodic sections that also let you get out some frustrations with a bit more violent tendencies for the sake of variety. The animations on the whole are clean and fluid, and it’s great that the gameplay below those animations tends to hold up nicely as well. If you’re a fan of the classics like Prince of Persia and some others, this is a more modern descendant who does that style of play proud!


    Justin Nation, Score:
    Nindie Choice! [8.4]
2024

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