World Splitter takes one of gaming’s most enduring physical anomalies and makes it spin. Parallel realities have featured in everything from A Link to the Past to The Medium, and developer NeoBird coaxes a few more miles from the concept. If anything, World Splitter is reminiscent of the world of the dead mechanic in Guacamelee!, where the press of a button alternates different configurations of platforms and hazards in the same space, and your head hurts trying to keep both in mind. Yet the difference here is that both worlds inhabit the screen at once, separated by a line that carves the play area in two. Your job is to move and rotate this line around each single-screen stage, creating paths so you can guide your little spaceman avatar from left to right.
It’s a more considered affair than the acrobatic demands of Guacamelee!, then. Slow and precise, its 60 levels are puzzle-platform challenges with the emphasis on puzzle, as you manipulate the scenery, find the spaces that exist in one dimension but not the other, and fashion bridges to reach them. It’s not only which side of the split you’re occupying that matters, but the exact position and angle of the line, bringing just enough of a platform into view to jump across to it, or cutting off corners to create inclines you can run up to reach higher ground.
Simple? In theory. But World Splitter’s layouts are quite capable of causing the brain to stumble. Key moves such as rotating the line around your character’s position, or pushing up higher platforms in the alternate world from beneath their feet, may require some mental rewiring. And each new environmental wrinkle introduced in the game’s six areas – from patrolling enemies to portals and the eventual paradigm shift of dividing the world into four – demands a little bit more.
Also, as cerebral as it is, World Splitter does require careful control, swiftly punishing a heavy touch. Exaggerated momentum can boost your character into trouble when navigating slopes, while their jump range – surely the tiniest in platform game history – makes crossing chasms a fraught prospect. And when you’re working the line around tight spaces, there’s always the danger that a single rash rotation might crush you with a wall from the other dimension, or erase the ground from beneath your feet.
Persistence should see you through despite the occasional mishap, however, as you figure out which bits of scenery to use and how to keep them safely in play. Indeed, even with all its toys and tricks in the mix, once you do get your head around the game’s logic, you can often rely on the same few techniques. For every level that forces you to stop and conjure up a cunning plan, there’s a couple that fall to steady application. Even so, World Splitter remains a pleasantly engaging twist on an old formula. Just don’t expect the earth to move.
A solid concept and neat design. World Splitter just lacks a touch of genius.
Format: Switch (tested) / PS4 / PC / XBO
Publisher: Bumble3ee / Interactive
Release: Out now