Octahedron: Transfixed Edition Review
From developer Demimonde, Octahedron: Transfixed Edition is a psychedelic vertical platformer built around the ebb and flow of trance music and precision timing. Everything in the world pulses with color that ripples through the spectrum as you generate and surf on platforms to make your way through the stage. This is a game that will punch you in the face with flashing colors and pulsing rhythm, but underneath that is a handcrafted difficulty built around precision. It’s a fantastic and unique idea to blend together, however, its execution is something of a jumbled dance after a few too many drinks; the parts are right but the intended flow isn’t quite working out.
Octahedron: Transfixed Edition brings the original game to the Nintendo Switch, however as enjoyable as the experience can be it is much more difficult to play in handheld mode than you might expect. The game is fun in that “oh god I want to rip out my eyes but I can’t stop playing” kind of way: it is punishing and you will learn through serious trial and error, but defeating a level – and collecting all of the goodies – gives you a potent sense of accomplishment. Where I felt Octahedron ran into problems is trying to balance a few starkly contrasting aspects in one experience.
From a strictly visual sense, Octahedron lives up to its distinction as a psychedelic game. Every object, enemy, and everything on screen will pulse and radiate through the entire color spectrum. Picking up an item leads to an explosion of color in the background and it is truly a sight to behold. While it is definitely visually impressive and quite a thing to see, hazards and aggressive enemies will often blend into the menagerie of exploding color and lead to free hits against you. I feel like this unique visual style is purposefully being used to make the game that much more difficult, but I can’t be sure if that’s by design or simply my poor reflexes.
Structurally, each stage of Octahedron has been painstakingly built to require precision for traversal. Generating platforms is easy enough but often times you need to be at the absolute peak of your jump before making said platform to be able to move on. This can be true even for something as simple as grabbing a collectible that seems just out of reach. This is a game all about timing and precision as well as patience, but this becomes a double-edged sword when the audio comes into play.
Enemies and indeed the environment react alongside the music which is fast and heavy. While the game thankfully doesn’t have a timer on each stage, the music is trying to get you to move at its own quick pace but it doesn’t always seem to line up with the timing needed to progress, and the visuals can become enough of a distraction as to throw you off completely. The music, visuals, and structure didn’t quite line up for me which made it a little more difficult to progress. I actually found I had an easier time playing with the volume low so I could focus on the other cues. Maybe I’m just getting old.
I did eventually find my groove with the game but it is definitely not something I feel you can sit down and casually enjoy. Octahedron needs your full attention – especially if you dare to play in handheld mode in which you need to be perfectly still, nose to the screen, and focused. The sense of satisfaction when completing a stage is great, however, I wasn’t pulled in enough to want to keep pushing forward. I enjoyed playing a level or two at a time but afterwards, I wanted a break for something more engaging. I would find myself compelled to come back to it later, but it wasn’t enough of a hook to make me want to keep pushing more and more time into it.
Octahedron: Transfixed Edition is a solid and deceptively simple platformer that uses its challenging structure, pumping rhythm, and striking visuals to create a package designed to overwhelm the senses. While each part is solid, the final product wasn’t enough to hook me into playing long term. The challenge was refreshing and the visuals more than pop, however, the game advises you to follow the rhythm and it didn’t quite feel in sync enough with all three aspects to do so. It’s an impressive and ambitious title, but not one as memorable as it ought to be.
**Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher**
- Pleasantly Challenging
- Amazing Visuals
- Sensory Overload
- Rhythm Doesn’t Always Jive
- Doesn’t Really Hook