I’d be lying if I said that I knew exactly what I was expecting from Concursion before I went hands-on with it for the first time. Everything that I’d previously heard about Puuba’s genre-bending gameplay left me with the impression that it was all an elaborate gimmick, rather than an innovative idea. Taking every genre that you adored as a kid and fusing them together seems legit on paper. However, the real question exists in asking how a developer can prevent the end product from becoming a jumbled mess of good intentions.
Luckily, Concursion manages to bring something new into the realm of 2D indie-games by intelligently constructing core gameplay mechanics that are simple enough for anyone to play but difficult enough for few to master.
Setting off on your quest towards platforming perfection quickly draws a powerful case of déjà vu for any fan of classic 2D side-scrollers, specifically Super Mario Bros. The game’s antagonist, Dark Lord Biganbad, has decided to keep his evil schemes from progressing and attempts to kidnap the princess again. However, as Biganbad achieves success, mysterious rifts begin exploding across the world, causing patches of space and time to create on-the-fly reality changes.
Sure, the story is paper thin, but that isn’t what you’ll be paying attention to. Playing through each level builds into a crescendo of genre-bending gameplay that feeds the game’s purpose of fusing five classic 2D genres into a single experience. Puuba truly flexes their design skills by streamlining the gameplay mechanics into a simplistic control scheme that seamlessly transitions between the game’s five core inspirations: platforming, shooting, hack-n-slash, jet packing and even Pac-Man.
Shattering space and time drives the core gameplay and refreshes the familiar controls of the 2D side-scrollers that Concursion draws inspiration from in a unique way. Expectedly, the developer asks you to gain a mastery of its game’s core mechanics and I often found myself clenching my controller in anticipation of the perfect stage run. Concursion knows what it’s attempting to accomplish, and it sets out to achieve it from the beginning. However, it wasn’t until the last two acts that I found myself truly engaged with unique design choices that often had me probing my brain for solutions.
One of the most disappointing elements of the core gameplay is that many of Concursion’s most interesting levels seemed to be few and far between. Additionally, by the time you reach the game’s final acts, you’ll likely have grown tired of the limited supply of enemies that exist in the worlds you’re constantly shifting between. Luckily, Puuba did manage to implement a varied range of boss battles that further extend the challenge. When in doubt, always throw in a giant robot boss fight or a biker with fists and feet capable of projecting lasers. Either one does just fine.
Facing off against your enemies could easily become a more difficult task due to the constant shifting of genres. Pushing your way to the end of each stage with speed and accuracy is aided by this distinct contrast in visuals, which makes it significantly easier to follow the movement of your character, and is crucial in clutch moments. As new segments of the level warp around you, Concursion does an excellent job of ensuring that you can find your character in the chaos. This plays a critical role in preparing you for the next challenge.
Jumping between worlds happens seamlessly, and there was never a time where the game failed to allow my progression due to a poor design decision or faulty coding. That’s huge when you consider the precision that these 2D side-scrollers demand in order to satisfy the desire for the design of classic video games.
Concursion‘s true appeal, though, exists in its replay value. Backtracking through the game’s seven acts will either be a welcome challenge, or feel as if you’re teeth are being pulled out by the root without anesthesia. If you happen to choose option number one, then you’ll find yourself immersed in the allure of studying and honing your skills to conquer Hardcore Mode, shattering each level’s challenge time and gathering every gem fragment.
Though it’s not without its faults, Concursion melts down your favorite classics into something new. It’s a game that knows what it wants to do and delivers its promise of genre-bending gameplay by sacrificing extravagant graphics and presentation for tight control and precision. Concursion is a great fix for all of your classic 2D platforming needs, but it remains hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the side-scrolling genre.
This review is based on a PC version of the game, which was given to us for review purposes.
Concursion will surely have a welcome home in any Steam user’s library, with a hearty appreciation for precise and demanding 2D platforming, but newcomers may be better off spending their $12 elsewhere.