Does this randomised mine provide you with enough to survive, or will you be left to rot, with only monsters as your gravekeepers?
In Platformines, there isn’t much to follow in terms of story. The Robodig, Your means of transportation and excavation underground has been severely damaged in a firefight with enemy forces. Stranded in a small cave, your role, as the player, is to collect the required parts around the randomized mine to rebuild the broken machine, all the while you survive against eerie monsters and enemy forces, making a buck as you go along collecting loot to improve your equipment.
For the purposes of this review, I will ignore the story, considering that it’s not really a story driven game, there isn’t much to comment about it other than it’s more of an objective marker.
Going for a pixel art retro look, Platformines presents a familiar aesthetic that is both colourful and friendly. Not exactly a game changer in terms of how original it is, it still provides with enough incentive to want to continue exploring the randomized caves and see what else there is to discover.
Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There’s your more generic animals such as bats, which you will find in abundance, and there’s also other, stranger enemies, such as eerie monsters, mysterious machines and even humans.
One thing I noticed about the other human enemies in the game is that they’re also randomized, along with the strange caves in Platformines. I never found 2 humans who looked exactly the same, which in my opinion was quite a treat. A scruffy man with a clown nose and elvis hair? Yep, you got it.
Now, the first thing I noticed about Platformines was the general sound design and music. The sound design is fitting for the general aesthetic of the game, giving a nice, responsive feedback for every action you take or enemy that attacks within a hearable range; it’s in the music department that I lost myself. The music in the game absolutely blew me away. A mix of electronic and chiptune music with catchy beats and re-imaginings of old orchestral classics, it was the perfect blend of old, new, groovy and moody to really capture me into the mines of Platformines. Never have I felt so entranced while looking for ores in a deadly mine.
The main objective in Platformines is to collect as much loot as you can while searching for the scattered parts of the Robodig.
Traversing the mines is very easy and intuitive, just jumping from place to place, with the basic ability to quintuple jump, all the while fending off monsters and other enemies with your weaponry. However, one major gripe about the quintuple jump is fall damage. Unfortunately, Platformines has quite strict fall damage, and I couldn’t help but take damage way more often that I would like to admit just because of it. I feel like it’s something that should never have been in the game in the first place.
At the beginning of the game, you start off with a pistol, which shoots in a generic straight line, and after some exploration, you can eventually obtain shotguns, machineguns and even rocket launchers, all with their unique effects, strengths and weaknesses to aid you in a variety of situations within the mines.
There’s some rpg elements to the game, like being able to collect different pieces of equipment to improve your character, such as headgear, and of course, like previously mentioned, firearms, but also improving health bars and inventory space by purchasing belts and backpacks. Being a pseudo health bar, the better the belt, the more hit points you have. The game has a really unique mechanic where your field of view depends on how much of a health percentage you have left, so it gets progressively harder to see enemies if your health is too low, meaning that it’s always best to keep that belt full of energy.
Platformines is a hard game. It’s not your typical platformer experience. Enemies do not have mechanical actions with repeated patterns. They won’t be walking left to right aimlessly regardless of your distance. If an enemy sees you, they will take aim and shoot you, more times than not outnumbering you and tactically defeating you.
Dying isn’t as simple as just respawning and going back to where you were. Every time you die, your character dies forever, and a clone of it is created for a fee, so every time you die, you will have to pay a price. I found the price to be very steep, and considering just how hostile the game is, I found myself dying way too often, either by some random trap, or outnumbered by monsters.
As mentioned before, the main objective of the game is to rebuild the robodig. You are free to go wherever you please within the mines, but the objective marker will always point you towards the next Robodig part required. Once a piece is found and collected, you may go to a different part of your safe haven where what’s left of the Robodig is being kept. In that special room, you are able to equip a sort of Robodig cannon, with which you are able to “shoot” the pieces of the Robodig where they are required. All color coded so that you know where to place each piece. As an added bonus, the music in the Robodig room is fantastic.