Making a splash
When you think of outstanding 2D platformers that have come out in the last 10 years your mind will immediately jump to Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends amongst many others. Well, there’s a new kid on the block with the same pedigree as those Ubisoft gems, that’s mostly because the team behind Splasher was put together by Romain Claude, an Ex-Ubisoft game and level designer that worked on both those games. This small team’s first effort is just as polished and well-crafted as any of those past works without resorting to simply copying them, Splasher is as fresh as it gets.
Splasher‘s story is, as in most 2D platformers, very simple and straightforward. You’re one of the many workers at a paint factory that one day, unfortunately, witnesses the evil Docteur experiment with green ooze on another of the factory workers, with this poor fellow immediately transforming into a gross looking potato mutant. Petrified by what you have just witnessed, you’re spotted and forced to make a run for it before deciding to take matters into your own hands and take down the whole factory down in style.
As the name implies, liquid plays a big role in Splasher. As you make your way around the various rooms of the Inkorp factory you’ll have to learn how to deal with these in order to progress through the game. You start off without any equipment as the game lets you get a feel of the basic platforming controls of the game and gives you time to accommodate to the speed and weight of your character, as well as teach you that water is safe for you to touch, pink paint makes you stick to surfaces, yellow paint is extremely bouncy and green ooze turns you into a potato of the ‘having to restart from the checkpoint’ variety. Our nameless purple haired hero manages to get a five-finger discount on one a fancy paint cannon in no time and throughout his adventure he gets to upgrade it with the different inks mentioned before.
Since you don’t get to use every kind of paint from the get-go stages will accommodate for that shortcoming, with the first couple having automatic pink and yellow shooters and simpler enemies while later stages demand quick paint swapping reflexes as you might have to paint the floor yellow to reach a wall only to spray it with pink ink so that you can climb it while avoiding enemies and stage hazards. It all feels perfectly balanced as the game slowly eases you in by teaching you the basic maneuvers one at a time before throwing them all together. With that said the game is far from a walk in the park, Splasher manages to be quite challenging as your ink cannon is really your only safety net unlike other platformers such as in Rayman or Donkey Kong Country. While in those you might be able to recover from a slip-up by gliding, in Splasher once you miss a jump or a platform you’ll likely become a tuber and have to restart from a checkpoint. Thankfully there are a lot of these sprinkled throughout each stage and on top of that, the game doesn’t have a life system, so as long as you keep at it you won’t be forced to replay the whole stage again from constantly dying.
While going through the factory you should be on the lookout for your co-workers that are in danger of becoming potatoes themselves. The vast majority is in easy to spot but tricky to reach places but there are also a few that are stuck in quarantine zones. These are special stages of sorts that focus on smaller challenges, some action other puzzle oriented. Finally, the last co-worker is always locked behind golden bars at the very end of every single stage which can only be opened if you manage to gather 700 golden-drops. While the game’s structure might be very familiar there’s no denying that the whole paint mechanic gives the platforming its own flavour and makes for a ton of neat vertical platforming sections.
Splasher’s presentation is rather pleasant. The game has a very cartoony aesthetic with plenty of vibrant colours and a lot of thing happening both in the fore and backgrounds. Said backgrounds are unique as well despite the fact that the entire game is spent inside of a factory, every single stage felt unique. In the audio department, we have a good effort as well. Every single piece of music fits the overall rebellious/playful tone of the game but very few of them were memorable to me. The sound effects add a little something to the game too, with the satisfying sounds of paint splatting everywhere and crowds cheering whenever you got through one of the quarantine zones.
Taking down the evil Docteur will take you roughly 6 hours but it might take you a while longer if you aim to save every single one of your co-workers. Once you’re done with all that you can have a shot at collecting every single Time Trial medal for each of the 22 stages or take it up a notch and attempt any of the three types of speed run modes. These being Standard, Selfish where you don’t have to worry about collecting either golden drops nor co-workers and Gotta Catch ‘Em All in which you must gather every single co-worker while going as fast as possible. Any of these speed run modes are incredibly challenging especially if you’re going for the best times as you need to beat every single stage in one sitting. These speedrun modes make for the most challenging trio of trophies if you aim to achieve the covetous platinum trophy of an overall very fun trophy list which is as rich in pop culture references and puns as the names of the stages themselves.
Splasher proves that big corporations are worthless without passionate and talented developers such as Romain Claude and his small team. Splasher feels just as tight and fun as any AAA 2D platformer with its fresh new gameplay mechanic that goes hand in hand with the smart level design. If you love 2D platformers you owe it to yourself to grab this great little gem.
SGR SCORE: 9/10