A puzzle-platformer? You know how I feel about these *Spoiler* I’m awful at them… This should be fun.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch; also available for PC and Mac.
Semblance is a creative puzzle-platformer with a twist, almost everything in the World, and sometimes even yourself, is entirely deformable. Using this ability you must shape each level in a particular way in order to reach various ‘orbs’ scattered throughout a level. It certainly brings an interesting perspective to this popular genre.
You take the role of an un-named, playdough-like blob. Rolling your way through each level, squishing and moulding the surfaces as you progress further through each puzzle. The puzzles themselves start off pretty simple, re-shape the surface in some way, shape or form to reach that little ‘orb’. There are usually 4 or 5 ‘orbs’ to collect per level. But as you progress, the game introduces new mechanics that really change how you play, and it certainly heightens the difficulty. The good thing is, it doesn’t heighten it too much so that you will quit (which I usually do with these type of games) but improves it just enough so that you will have that ‘oh yeah’ moment when you figure something out. You may need to dash down into the ground to allow an obstacle to pass over you, you may need to squash yourself completely flat (unlocked in later levels) in order to reach higher ledges or pass through thin gaps. ‘What if I accidentally move the wrong part of a surface?’ Don’t worry, there is a reset button which comes in very handy. Unfortunately a lot of times during a particular level, the way in which you solve the puzzle will be very similar to the last.
Semblance does try to introduce some sort of story through various wall paintings or carvings you stumble across during some levels. Sadly, it just isn’t strong enough to have any real impact on how you see things throughout the game, and even if it did, I think the game itself Is too short to become invested in any kind of story. You could complete Semblance in a matter of hours, which in some ways is both good and bad. Good for those people who don’t have a lot of free time to game, but bad as it doesn’t have much replay value. I’m Sad to also say that the ending seemed a little abrupt, I enjoyed playing through this game and when the ending came I was left wanting more.
Graphics & Sound
Semblance is nice to look at, even though it isn’t exactly anything special. It has a very minimalistic design and there is nothing wrong with that. Each level you pass through pretty much has the same look, the only thing that really changes is the colour scheme. Which is one thing I did really like about the art style; the colours are wonderful.
The sounds throughout are pretty toned down, you almost don’t notice them until you listen for them. It’s almost as if the sounds send you into some sort of puzzler trance. I was completely engrossed. I can’t really explain it. I don’t think there needed to be anything more than there was here. It worked really well.
The graphics and sound really go hand in hand with one another, pretty basic but they bring an undoubtedly relaxing experience.
Semblance brings a very calm experience to a genre that I usually find the most frustrating. It’s charming yet simple art style reels you in and the soundtrack adds the cherry on top. It is short and it will leave you wanting more but don’t let that take you away from the totally unique game that this is. Is it the best puzzle game out there? Not by a long shot but this is a great idea that has been executed in the best possible way. If you’re a fan of the puzzle genre then I suggest you give Semblance a go, it will be unlike any puzzle game you have played before. If puzzle games aren’t really your thing but you’re interested? Wait for a sale, it might just surprise you.