After an intense session of the new, fast-paced shooter, Crash Force, the game Semispheres was a welcome calm. The two games couldn’t be more different. One is loud, energetic, and explosive. The other is quiet, meditative, and controlled. I only own a few games that have this calming effect, and I believe that they help to round out my collection.
Vivid Helix generally creates development tools, so a puzzle game like Semispheres is not too far from the norm. It’s about using the few resources you have to solve sometimes complex puzzles. A single map split into two nearly identical pieces to create each level. It’s a single-player game, but you control two characters at the same time. The left controller joystick moves a yellow character around the left side of the screen, and the right joystick moves a blue character around the right. Players of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons might recognize this movement mechanic. It seems simple in theory, but it’s actually quite tricky. I found it required a good amount of focus to get my brain to move each character as I wanted him to move.
Your mission in each level is to move both of the characters to their corresponding end goal circles. Most levels include sentries who will send the characters back to their starting positions if they are spotted. Because of this, stealth and cleverness are utterly important.
Each character can pick up one-time-use actions to help along the way. Sometimes, these actions create noise to draw sentries away from an area. Other actions allow for the teleportation of beings across the map divide. My personal favorite action opens up a window between the maps. The window is in the exact same spot on each map, however, neither character can use it to teleport to the opposite side. Instead, it’s used to distract or teleport sentries from the other map. I could hardly wrap my mind around this concept in some of the levels. I felt my brainwaves become audible as I mumbled, “How do I even…?”
The calming effect of the bichromatic color scheme dividing the two halves of the screen is something worth experiencing. Combined with the soothing soundtrack, the art style helped to complete the immersive, tranquil experience. I would buy Sid Barnhoorn’s score and listen to it while relaxing. Luckily, it’s available as DLC.
There are more than 50 total puzzles. They start out simple but become increasingly difficult as the abilities and concepts begin to layer. The game length is appropriate for the price, although, there isn’t much replay value. Once you complete each level, there’s really no incentive to go back and play through it again.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, or just want to try something different, Semispheres is a great place to start. It’ll melt your brain as you try to move two characters and solve two puzzles at the same time. The one-time-use actions are a clever addition to an already-challenging experience. You can pick it up on Steam and PS4 now, with an Xbox One release expected soon. Unlike the majority of digital indie games, you can even purchase a limited-edition physical copy of the game to add to your collection. Copies can be tracked down on the developer’s Twitter page.
A PC review copy of Semispheres was provided by Vivid Helix for the purpose of this review