Flatland Vol.2 is a high-flying, retro-styled platformer with dazzling neon visuals and a killer dance soundtrack.
From where we stand now it may be hard to imagine the times when dots were used as protagonists in video games. The days of Atari, Pong and Commodore have since left us, but retro classics continue to inspire gamers young and old. While some technology may feel outdated, there are still plenty of new independent titles that pay homage to an age of low resolution graphics and much slower internet.
Flatland Volume 2 is an electric trip to a 2-D world of neon wire-frame platforming. While executing daring jumps feels accustomed to many games, there is a bounty of modernized mechanics and audio-visual appeal to create a uniquely entertaining arena to platform in. Smooth physics are served over a playground of neon obstacles making each level a challenge of skill and well timed execution.
Our acrobatic main character is played by a yellow square who seeks the goal area of each stage while solving puzzles for hidden items along the way. Controls are intuitively straightforward, but there are some modern additions which add depth to the expected gameplay flow. The ability to sprint, wall jump, and dash in mid-air are introduced as the difficulty rises during the starting stages. These maneuvers must be timed skillfully in order to overcome hazards and reach the goal of each stage.
While inspiration draws heavily from older games, there’s plenty of modern music and visuals that add to the overall experience. Backgrounds and animations are treated with eye catching neon colors and smooth effects that would seem out of place in your average pixel art realm. The soundtrack also steps out for the chiptune realm with a selection of modern dance music in various styles to keep you focused and energized for that next daring jump. Another quality of life feature built into the control scheme is the ability to change songs during a level, to something that’s better suited to your mood and energy. The soundtrack also does a great job of keeping you feeling upbeat and inspired to try again after exploding against stage hazards.
There are other game modes that offer added layers of challenge beyond completing the normal levels. There is a time attack challenge based on speed, as well as a mode where you’re chased around each level by a monstrous ball that tries to eat you. This increase in anxiety is hilarious but also sets a good rhythm and pace for practicing well timed executions. The toughest task might be completing the bonus objective in the hidden stages. Within each level is the opportunity to warp to a new stage and achieve a secret bonus. Players can attempt to retrieve and return the hidden tesseract to the secret area’s entrance for full completion.
While Flatland Vol.2 is drenched in appealing neon colors, clearing stages can require some patience. It takes some critical thinking to determine the best path to clearing a stage and timing is everything, making the learning curve a tough one. The method of problem solving using coordinated wall jumps and air dashes may not be suited for beginners, as you’re required to execute combinations fairly quickly. Within each level and bonus stage is a delicate pattern that must be deciphered while dodging hazards and fighting against gravity.
One area where flatland feels particularly two dimensional is the lack of compelling story or characters. Due to the platforming difficulty, the game relies heavily on the uplifting music to continue after failed attempts. While the overall theme is old school and wire-frame graphics, there aren’t any fun characteristics like Banjo-Kazooie style googly eyes or animated facial features to stir up emotions such as those found in Hollow Knight or Sack Boy. There also isn’t any substantial narrative to the story, which makes the cube feel especially square. The achievements for participating in the Super Meat Boy style death fest do have hilarious names, however, such as “don’t let your dreams be dreams.” While there are other game modes, access to new stages is unlocked by completing them. If you happen to get stuck or frustrated by a level, then the only way out of it is through it.
Flatland Vol.2 is easy to understand and simple to enjoy. There are many tried and true methods of a good platformer at work with a modernized approach to style with music and visuals that are pleasing to behold. While there isn’t much charm beyond the zippy achievement names and the flashy neon visuals, Flatland Vol. 2 presents a fun challenge for platforming fans and those who stick with its tough but rewarding learning curve.
-Smooth neon visual effects
-Upbeat electronic dance soundtrack
-Fluid movement using intuitive controls
-No memorable characters or story element
-Repeating trial and error deaths can be frustrating
3 out of 5
Review key provided by PR. Flatland Vol.2 is Out Now!