Review Context: The only game I’ve played that I can think of that is remotely close to what Newt One does is Journey (PS3). I personally found Journey to be a very pleasant experience and Newt One taps into similar feelings.
Date of Playthrough: March 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclaimer: This review was based off of a review copy provided by Utomik.
Newt One is a 3D colorful platformer, developed by independent game developer DevNAri. DevNAri, a two-man team from Minnesota, presents Newt One as their first published game. Newt One‘s gameplay is very different than any other game I have ever experienced, as its mission is for the player to create life instead of removing life. This means there is no killing or deaths. The main character is Newt, who is tasked to awaken the world that has fallen under “the Great Slumber.” As Newt, you will have to find and save the Great Elders to help lift the Great Slumber. You start out in the Forest world and unlock the rest of the worlds (Islands, Clouds, Glacier) after completing the Forest world.
The core concept of bringing a level to life isn’t just visually, but also musically. As you control Newt throughout the levels, the platforms touched will turn from dark grey to a color for that particular world. You will also encounter flowers and birds that need to be brought back to life to help aid your platforming in finishing a level. The top of the screen has a display of the percentage of completion for each level that starts at zero. You can also collect musical notes, which as they are collected the music will become louder and provide much more life to a given level. Each level also has a special parrot that can be collected. Some levels provide wings to aid in platforming long distances and some levels have drums, which can manipulate platforms containing different elements in each world to allow Newt’s usage. All of the above make up a level in Newt One,
Each level is pretty motivating for me as a player to touch everything to bring everything to life. Very rarely during my experience did I leave a percentage of the level untouched, but it can be questioned to DevNAri as to why a 100% completion would not be the win condition for each level instead of optional when considering the mission statement of the game. No matter the percentage of your completion, the level can still be finished by reaching the end of the level. One criticism is that each platform in the entire game is hexagonal shaped, because a greater variety of platform shapes would have made the game feel a little fresher each level. Instead, the ‘freshness’ in Newt One is just in entering new worlds for the first time and the various platforming sequences from level to level. For some gamers, this way of variety might still be too stale, but I was still able to find enough enjoyment and appreciation in each new world and level to not feel bored. The different worlds have enough of their own character and distinguishing features that they don’t feel copy and pasted and actually have their own intriguing platforming elements to provide some new level of difficulty for the player. Another thing to note is that the levels are relatively short time wise, and even quicker if you are not concerned about collecting everything, but as mentioned earlier, the game does a good job of motivating you to want to collect as much as you can. One major standout in Newt One is the music, as the tunes are very memorable and hard to get out of your head after a play session. I can easily see myself listening to the music as a soundtrack outside of the game.
Although the time it takes to finish a level is relatively short, there is reason to go back to each level. The game has different achievements known as “Badges,” which can be earned each level. Badges include 100% runs, no falling off platforms a single level run, collecting the parrot, and collecting all musical notes. There is a sense of accomplishment when finishing the level and seeing those badges pop up, but whether a player feels the sense to go back through a level and collect all the badges is an entirely different ballgame, but is something that can appeal to certain gamers. Another element of replay value is that each level keeps track of your time through a level. As I was playing through Newt One I could easily picture this being played by speedrunners with different stipulations that could possibly be added per run.
The controls in Newt One might be my greatest point of concern, if any. I played the demo of Newt One with keyboard controls and they were a bit of a pain, but I played the entire game of Newt One with a controller and I can easily profess that this game should only be played with a controller. There are several platforming mechanics involving the drums that I just can’t see being pulled off without frustration using a keyboard. Even with a controller, I found some degree of difficulty. DevNAri does a great job of providing player’s with various options for controls, so I encourage players to take advantage of that. I found the tightness and smoothness of platforming to be mostly good, but there were times I felt the controls of simply moving forward might have been a bit floaty.
Newt One is a tricky game for me to recommend to a specific audience because there is so much I like about it, but it also raises some concerns. I can easily recommend this game to kids, as the message in the game is positive, but there are certain platforming sequences in Newt One that even I had to try a few times that required some dexterity. That said, kids these days are way different these days, exposed to much more technology than 15-20 years ago, so maybe I am severely underestimating kids! For older audiences, this may not be the most appealing gameplay, but Newt One should be appreciated for what it sets out to do because it achieves that in flying colors. This is a great entry game by DevNAri and I look forward to what they do next.
It will be released elsewhere later in 2018.
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