Semblance, the world’s first “true” platformer that stole our hearts and imaginations at E3 2018, has finally been given a release date. It’ll be bouncing, squishing, and deforming its way onto the PC and Nintendo Switch on July 24th! In case you missed our initial review of the game last month, here’s what you need to know.
Players will take on the role of Squish, a soft and squishy piece of ground, and navigate him through his formerly-soft and squishy world. A creeping infestation of hard material is slowly locking his world in place and it’s up to Squish to stop it. Players must develop solutions to break apart the hard material, and that is made both very easy and incredibly hard by the fact that Squish’s entire world is deformable. Mountains and valleys can be formed, along with ramps, launch points, ladders, and hiding spots. It’s up to the player to determine how they want to get to the end of each level. Imagine the Portal series, but with Aperture Science being made entirely out of play-dough. That will get you pretty close to what playing Semblance is really like.
This was hands-down our favorite demo at E3. We clumsily played our way through a couple of levels under the watchful eye of lead designer Ben Myres, figuring out gameplay mechanics while chatting about the development of the game. Semblance was developed by Nyamakop, a small South African game studio, over the course of three years. Initially destined for a PC release, Myres and programmer Cukia Kimani changed course when Nintendo unveiled the Switch in late 2016. As there are no Nintendo reps, major game publishers, or conventions in South Africa, Myres and Kimani had to adopt a more unconventional approach to pitching their game. They packed their bags and hit the road, traveling the globe to meet and showcase their game. It worked out beautifully. They were approved for a Nintendo development spot on a sidewalk in San Francisco, and Good Shepherd Entertainment signed on to be the game’s publisher. Now Semblance is set to be the first South African-developed game ever on any Nintendo console. That’s quite a feat for just two people (who hopefully also have thousands of frequent flier miles to show for all their hard work).
In addition to being just plain FUN to play, Semblance is also widely accessible. First, there’s no dialogue in the game and the minimal guidance is all given via subtitles. Players don’t have to be fluent readers in order to understand what’s going on. Second, as the entire world is deformable, there’s no one correct solution for each level. Less-experienced or younger players can opt for simpler and more direct solutions through each level, while more-experienced players can design intricate and unique structures to get them to their goal. Players can even change their strategy throughout the game, as there are no formal difficulty settings to get stuck with. Finally, the game is just pretty. Despite being a side-scroller, the backgrounds are 3D, adding a depth and beauty to the game rarely seen in this genre. All of this is tied up with a beautiful E Rating, making this game appropriate and enjoyable for a very wide range of gamers.
That’s it for our review. We’re off to spend the next 20 days haunting the Nintendo eShop for pre-order or purchase information. The game will be available for a digital download through Nintendo (and Steam for the PC version), but no price point has been announced yet. Check out the announcement trailer below. Let us know if you’ll be joining our adventure to save Squish’s world on July 24th!