Spoiler Alert! The reverse-platforming adventures of Chili Knight only muster a score of 4/10 as despite the interesting premise the game has no real substance and is far, far too short. And with that concluding thought, read on to discover my earlier first impressions as I pay tribute with by backwards review. (Or skip to the end and try to read it backwards!)
Of course the killer problem with Spoiler Alert is how short-lived the game is. I’ve played brief indie games before and don’t mind a short playtime but this really is over quickly – I’d blitzed through all three worlds in half an hour and although this did unlock a bonus fourth world, that only lasted four minutes. A speedrun mode was also made available but on my first go I finished the whole game in 19 minutes, and once I’d spent another ten minutes winning the last few gold medals on some of the trickier levels (getting all the achievements in the process) I’d seen pretty much everything the game had to offer within one hour. To be fair the publisher has responded to criticisms of the game length on Steam with promises to continue supporting it and (optimistically) pointing out the potential for more user-generated levels, but this isn’t really adequate.
The level editor is potentially a great way to extend the life of this sort of platformer but unfortunately is pretty awkward and fiddly to use, although it’s still easy enough to build your own simple landscapes. Tellingly though there are very few user-generated levels to download, even months after release and I can’t see that changing.
The limitations of the game also wouldn’t be so disappointing if it didn’t make promises like ‘epic boss flights’ as well as ‘many different and unique enemies’. Enemies are just essentially reskinned across the three stereotypical video game worlds and as with the rest of the game you don’t get a lot of input in beating the bosses (plus why is Mr. Death Bunny so easily beaten if that’s supposed to be the true end of the game?)
Beyond the briefness of the levels, the basic gameplay could be forgiven if it wasn’t confounded with some poor level designs and disappointing glitches. Although most levels will easily be completed on your first go, others are set up in a way that you’ll need to fail a couple of times to work out the correct path to take timings necessary to time jumps. This isn’t helped by the fact you can’t slow down and in some instances there’s time to react so you just have to accept your death as unavoidable. More irritating however are issues like the uncertain collision detection (especially those damn rolling gnomes) and the difficulty in jumping again as soon as you land from a jump – control issues should definitely not be a problem for a game with only one button.
Spoiler Alert does actually play a lot like a simple flash game, and fittingly the graphics also resemble a flash game. This is no bad thing though – the visuals are bright and colourful and convey quite a bit of humour. Like many flash games though it is very simple and, crucially, over too quickly. There may be 100 levels but most of them are only about ten seconds long and the majority will be completed on your first go and the accomplishment of a gold medal. Admittedly the short levels do make it quite compelling, with a constant sense of achievement and desire for ‘just one more level’ but before you know it the whole game is over.
The actual game mechanics involves the helmeted pepper automatically running backwards from right to left with your only input being when to jump and, very occasionally, pressing the action button. Completing the levels isn’t just a case of getting to to the end though – to avoid creating a time paradox you have to ensure you retrace the exact path that Chili Knight followed on his quest. To this end dead enemies must be unkilled, collected coins returned to their original position and any untouched enemies/coins must be left that way. Despite this extra restriction the game does remain very basic though, it can essentially be played with one button and without paying too much attention.
So, Spoiler Alert – a platforming game that begins with you vanquishing the end of game boss and reaching the princess and just as the end credits roll… time reverses and you get to play out the heroic exploits that got you to your goal. I wonder how it plays?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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