Octahedron: Transfixed Edition review | Like 2010 never ended

A mesmerising platform-puzzler hits the Switch. Our review of the slick, tough Octahedron: Transfixed Edition…


 

More games are being released right now than ever before. While that is, on the whole, a good thing, it also means plenty of perfectly fine and fun indie titles are getting buried because they prioritise nailing the fundamentals instead of trying to be the next big genre-defining Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program.

That’s why a game like Octahedron, which feels like something straight from the indie boom of the early 2010s, is so refreshing. It’s not going to redefine the world, but it harkens back to a much simpler time when the likes of VVVVVV and Braid were all the rage.

Octahedron’s stages are highly vertical, the obstacles are unforgiving, and being sent all the way back to the beginning of a stage happens alarmingly frequently. To help you, you’re given the ability to generate a limited number of temporary platforms that move along with you.

This may sound like it makes a game all about jumping to and from platforms a tad easy, but the ingenious level design and use of multiple types of platform, each with their own properties to master, helps turn it into a devilishly challenging experience.

Nothing in Octahedron should be taken at face value. Obstacles react to your presence and actions, requiring you to use your platforms as switches, lifts, shields and more. Vital ledges may fade out of existence as you move on the X axis, or disappear should you spawn your own platform in a different place. It’s this requirement to observe and learn the rules of each level as you go that gives depth to what would otherwise be a very by-the-numbers platformer.

Of course, with a core conceit this uncomplicated, the presentation also needs to be stellar, and Octahedron has style to spare. The thumping trance soundtrack and neon visuals not only make the game an immensely appealing game to experience, it helps lull you into a state of flow that’s halfway between Tetris-style relaxation and bullet hell hyperfocus.

Every setback and failure blurs into a rush of colours and sound, with only the transitions between stages letting you come back up to the surface for a moment.

Octahedron isn’t a game-changer, but neither is it trying to be. It isn’t bringing anything new to the platforming genre, nor is it offering a deep and emotive story, and that’s completely okay.

What it is offering is fiendishly tricky level design, a thorough understanding of platforming as a genre, lush presentation, and a real ‘indie spirit’ that’s rarely been seen since the early days of Humble Bundle. Calling it ‘essential’ would be overkill, but there’s a charm to Octahedron that is absolutely worth checking out.

Highlight

The character designs are abstract and just plain bizarre. A main character whose head has been swapped with a glowing diamond, enemies that look like overgrown viruses, and walls bursting into flocks of birds, all drenched in neon, are some of the oddities that give Octahedron its distinctive visual style.

Verdict

Octahedron feels like a relic from a simpler time, but in a good way. The platforming’s slick, the levels are tough, and the soundtrack sounds like a 2003 rave.

70%

Genre: Platformer
Format: Switch (tested) / PS4 / XBO / PC
Developer: Demimonde
Publisher: Square Enix
Price: £9.99
Release: Out now

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