Marble games used to be a big thing; a vibrant genre with many curious entries, the grandfather of which being Marble Madness on the Nintendo.
Fast forward a couple of decades and we now see the popular Unity game engine offering countless ready-to-order marble platforming engines from it’s asset store. As a direct result of this unfortunate saturation, the once beloved genre has been corrupted a deluge of sub-par, boring adaptations of the once loved classics.
Every now and then a contender comes a long looking to redeem the genre, most of which turn out to be little more than shiny fugazies with little depth or substance.
The latest contender pushed into my peripheral was The Little Ball That Could by indie label Naissus Works , It launches on Steam on the 13th of September and has been available on mobile for a little while now.
Before writing this review- Disclaimer * I played a total of 25 levels, which equated to 30 minutes of game play, So though I didn’t see the later levels, I felt it was generous enough play-time in which to give a review.
One thing which was clear after playing a few levels on PC; this game is very much a mobile game, not so much in visual design or control scheme, but in terms of the game’s pace and noticeably shallow depth.
The controls are tight, and the game is brilliantly polished. The vibrant colours really massage the cornea gently, I was genuinely excited going into the experience, but it faded pretty quickly when the familiar ‘casualness’ of a mobile game started waving at me.
The game’s clean art style is really nice, although personally, I am tiring of this minimalist game art fad – it’s has been pretty rampant for the past few years, and quite frankly, it’s as played as a Bieber track.
After about level 5, I started to yearn for a bit of grit, just a crack in the floor, or something to challenge my fading attention. Sadly every single level started to blend into one. The same could unfortunately also be said for the game-play experience itself.
The issue I witness is; the game has an identity problem – likely caused by the developers feeling obligated to put it on both mobile and PC. And coming to mobile first, this is just that, a mobile game.
As a mobile game it is cool, 3 – 5 years ago it may well have been a million dollar game, but in today’s market – it’s rather generic at best.
Now as a PC game.. well, sure there are worse (there are always worse), but that’s not how we determine games we enjoy.
There is little to no difficulty curve, you can breeze through the first 25 levels at least with little resistance.
I could say quite a bit about where this game goes wrong (by indie PC game standards), but I honestly feel it just doesn’t deserve that much dedicated attention.
I will attempt to make a quick short list:
– the time limit is annoying, it feels unfair and game breaking
– there is no consequence to not collecting the ‘key items’, leading you to just take the most direct path to the finish, missing most of the game play experience
-music is strangely dramatic
-levels just seem to go on and on with little new interesting offerings in terms of obstacles or level design.
– the ball has no personality or character, which is somewhat contradictory to the title of the game
-the game does not feel challenging, more so tedious
I don’t like making negative reviews, in fact this may be one of two or so I have ever written.
This game clearly wants to be taken seriously, but if you want to box with the big boys, you need to bring it. I feel like this is a classic case of ‘graphics do not make a game’.
The little ball that could not is the unfortunate result.