Updated: May 19
This 2017 Xbox One indie title offers some interesting varied visuals and atmosphere but all too often is bogged down with taxing, frustrating gameplay.
Developed by Swedish team Skobbejak Games initially for Steam before the Xbox One port, the game is a mixture of a walking simulator with first person platforming and the minimalistic menus and creepy environments lend the levels an abstract twisted dream quality.
There is only one goal - to simply navigate through each level to reach the strange, ethereal white tree. That's it. There are 18 stages which must be completed with a time trial mode available for each one but after about six levels the assets are reused from earlier ones but with generally harder challenges to mix up the gameplay.
It starts easy enough with some light corridor mazes in a creaky mansion, then followed with some platforming in an eerie cloud-like setting but within a few levels the difficulty notably ratchets up with longer, punishing stages which require precision timing, copious amounts of pattern memorisation and an aggressive amount of 'trial and error' gameplay. This becomes less enjoyable with each failed jumping attempt (and presumably, death) and more an exercise in masochistic dedication.
The music and visuals are effective, with the tender piano music offset against the otherworldly environments, adding to the game's off-beat nightmarish vibe. The minimalist feeling is evident from the lacking user interface and inability to save your in-level progress. These are hallmarks of a small development team but also in some way add to the game's lucid ambience.
Unfortunately, the actual gameplay is simply too frustrating to recommend as the later levels are repeats of already visited locations with much more timing focused elements and only a moderate checkpoint system to keep the flow going.
It's bizarre and fresh enough in terms of visual level design but underneath it's off-kilter tone is a deeply infuriating repetitive first-person platformer which will only appeal to those willing to put more time in than it is worth.