Publisher: Headup Games
Review Platform: PC (Steam)
Review Copy Provided By: Fabraz
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Sime-san oozes character. From the moment I booted up the game I was covered in a thick coating of fantastic Japanese pixelated gunk, and I loved it. Slime-san is a twitchy platformer with tight controls, a strong visual identity and absurd characters and references.
You play as Slime-san, a bouncy little green slime ball that has found itself swallowed by a gigantic red worm. Inside the worm is a community of equally trapped critters, and hundreds of challenging levels between you and freedom. Slime-san has taken the room based platformer most recently popularised by games such as N+ or Super Meat Boy, and has created its own gooey take on platforms, hazards, and speed based jumping mechanics. It’s every bit as slick and polished as those games, and thrives in it’s own weird world.
The first thing you’ll notice is the striking 5 colour scheme and chiptune music reminiscent of the Gameboy era, which pulled at my nostalgic heartstrings and had me back playing Dragon Warrior Monsters after school. It’s no surprise then to find out that Fabraz have worked with some really great Chiptune artists to create the game’s soundtrack. All that retro glory is there without feeling like a gimmick. It feels honest. It’s a love letter to those games, not an imitation. The game is centered on your screen in a square window, and you would be forgiven for thinking that Slime-san had been ported over from a handheld console. The real cleverness comes when you realise that the square design perfectly fits the little levels you traverse through, and the 5 colour scheme is all you need to distinguish between each level’s various hazards and interactions.
In each room Slime-san fights against the clock. A wave of red stomach acid is fast approaching and this timer gives urgency to the way you play. Ultimately Slime-san is a game about speed. You’re bounced quickly from level to level. Each death sets you instantly back to the beginning of the room so that you can die and die again. Obstacles come in the form of red walls, balls, and enemies. Green obstacles can be phased through. This phase move also slows time and means it takes some smart thinking to get you through levels. The classic wall jump and airhop are your best friends, interchange these with your dash to slip and slide across gaps and over hazards. Tight controls like these are integral to the enjoyment of a platformer and Slime-san does it right. Your skill is important, and every death feels like your fault, every victory a triumph.
Developers Fabraz have clearly thought about the experience for the players. The speedrunning modes are perfect for anyone really looking to push the limits of the game and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t present at the next Awesome Games Done Quick. There’s an integrated twitch mode with the option for your viewers to interact with your game. There’s a whole host of cosmetics, backgrounds, different slimes to play as with different abilities, all available to buy with apples you can pick up across the levels. There’s a training area where you can test your mastery of different mechanics, and a timed ‘break the targets’ mode in a cool nod towards the Smash Bros series.
There’s just so much to explore and find, every corner of the game feels alive, interesting and important. I can’t count the amount of secrets I’ve found just trying to jump up to a place that looked hard to reach. There’s New Game+, a Boss rush mode, and online rankings. I’m a competitive player, and having those options is important to me. However, even if that doesn’t interest you, it’s nice to know that the developers are looking out for all types of player. It shows thoughtfulness and intent behind the design, and that quality shines through. Fabraz have thought of everything, and it gives Slime-san real depth and replayability.
The game is littered with self aware pop culture references, and each character you come across feels like someone doing a bit in a skit. The fox at the noodle bar shouting “datte-bayo”, the hedgehog in the arcade claiming to be the fastest guy around, the dog speedrunning and exploiting bugs, the game is so tongue in cheek without being obnoxious. It’s so consistently in your face that it doesn’t feel out of place, the whole game is out of place. It’s in its own place wherever that may be. It’s made its own slimey corner where all this gaming culture has pooled together.
The first major DLC, Slime-san: Blackbird’s Kraken, released 20th July. The DLC is free to Slime-san owners and is actually purchasable as it’s own separate game.
If you’re looking for a challenging platformer to whittle away the hours this year, then seriously look no further. Slime-san is the polished product and you’ll soon fall in love with its fantastically individual style. The controls are tight, the references smart, and the tone unapologetically out there.