By William Shelton
Release Date: December 8, 2015
Systems: PC (Reviewed), Xbox Live Arcade
Developer: Fun Infused Games
Publisher: Fun Infused Games
Obtained By: Review Copy Provided by Fun Infused Games
I can sum up most of my frustration with Volchaos with one line: it’s a game entirely set in a volcano that plays like an extended ice level. While the game does aim to be challenging, this dissonance (and the root causes of it, which we’ll get into later) stopped the game from being rewarding and instead made it as tedious as swimming in lava. But, as maddening as the game was I did find myself compelled to complete it.
You play as an unnamed man who decided that the most sensible way to pay off his alimony and other debts is to jump into an active volcano to collect the gems inside. What little story that’s here is all contained in one brief cutscene and pre-level screen caps, although these serve more as one line gags more than exposition. Some of those gags even manage to be funny. Ultimately, the stories biggest flaw is also it’s greatest strength: there’s just not much too it. That means that there’s not much to talk about, but it also means that it never manages to outstay its welcome. The game is much like a good Will Ferrell comedy in that regard: you’ll chuckle a few times but when you remember that you could be watching “Stranger than Fiction” or “Everything Must Go” instead you have to question you’re life choices.
As inoffensive as the set up was, the gameplay made me want to put my fist through my monitor in nearly every level. The major issue here is how floaty the controls are. Honestly, the controls are so floaty Pennywise the Clown could use the game to lure children into the sewers.
Gravity ranges from non-existent to “maybe there…possibly.” This is most prevalent in the jumping. There’s one late game level that’s mostly a strait line filled with Thwomp-like spiked walls that fall as you progress. Right at the start of this level is a pit you have to jump over, because falling into it means death. I died over a hundred times in that level (yes, I know that for a fact as the game keeps a death count) with most deaths coming from that point as even the lightest press of the space bar sent the character flying into the enemies above. Add to that platforms that were so slick that it was common for the character to go sliding off and into lava and you get can start to see where why I said it plays like an ice level. Not helping is the way enemies have a way of spawning in right in front of you. You die in one hit here, so when you have to make a blind jump (something you have to do often) and find that a group of enemy bats spawned in right above your head, the game swiftly becomes tedious more than anything.
The saddest part of it all is just how many better games Volchaos reminded me of while playing it. Like in Limbo death serves as your introduction to the puzzle. And like in….
WARNING! DARK SOULS COMPARISON INCOMING!!!!
….Dark Souls you’re never as far from the objective as it feels like you are. Unlike both of those games however, the mechanics just don’t stack up. Death taught me how to solve Limbos puzzles and I know how I made it through every boss in Dark Souls. There are more than one stage in Volchaos I don’t know how I made it through.
As much as I hated the game at times, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t some what obsessed by it. Maybe I just hate myself (I did admit to watching more than one Will Ferrell movie, after all), but I made a point of beating the game. I can’t say the game is good, but I also wouldn’t have been too pissed if I had dropped the $3 for it. The game has a nice visual aesthetic and the music…..well…..the music can be turned off at least.
There’s not a lot to like about Volchaos, but if you’re like me I think there is just enough to keep your attention for the 60 main missions. That took me about 5 hours and that feels like enough. I may (read: will) never go back to this once this review is up, but those 5 hours weren’t the worst thing I’ve been through.