Preview – Slime-san
2D platformers are hardly unique or even rare releases. So many indie games these days seem to follow the old classic run and jump gameplay, perhaps because it’s so simple and effective, but it’s only the ones that take this familiar genre somewhere new that are remembered fondly. Whilst Limbo, Ori and the Blind Forest, and even last year’s Inside pull in the player through the interesting worlds they create, Slime-san is much more akin to the challenging side of platforming, where the likes of Electronic Super Joy, Super Meat Boy, and my personal favourite N++ lie. And yes, it does it well. Not only does the game deliver on its promise that every level has new stage mechanics/threats to stimulate the player but it has a ton of content, replayability, and charm. Plus, it manages to do all that using only about 4 colours.
In Slime-san, as the name may suggest, the player controls a blob of slime who, along with his bird ally, gets swallowed by a giant worm and the goal is to get out. Even with the NPC interactions there is nothing more to the story than that, everything else is mostly just for fun. Still, being a slime sets the pretense for a major ability that the gameplay relies on. Besides the usual moving left and right, jumping, and the power to dash are some more advanced controls. The first and hardest to pull off is a dash-jump which is done exactly how it sounds but requires impeccable timing to reach the farthest distance possible. Most importantly, however, is the the game’s unique mechanic that lets the player to slip through porous, normally solid, blocks and simultaneously slows down time to allow for the necessary precision, especially when needing to switch modes multiple times quickly. Using these basic movement abilities the player is presented with the epic task of not touching red stuff, including platforms, enemies, buzzsaws etc and reaching the end zone in each stage as the levels go from child’s play to requiring complete focus and cat-like reflexes throughout the course of the game.
As mentioned, each of the 100 levels (usually 4 rooms each, barring a few boss fights and the more interesting of stages), are built around a unique mechanic such as having to open locked doors by touching keys or needing to ride on the backs of slug creatures to cross large gaps. This, combined with the fact there’s a timer for an approaching wall of death forcing the player to push faster, genuinely keeps the game interesting throughout and not once did I get bored of the ‘same old platforming’. On top of that, for an added challenge, every level has a time to beat and most every room in the game has a collectible apple that tests players’ ability and speed even further. These are good for completion’s sake, yes, but they are also used as currency for new characters (that all come with unique play styles) and other various frivolities, such as cosmetic upgrades. There’s just so much to do and that’s without mentioning secret areas, New Game+, and boss rush mode etc.
Although, Slime-san certainly isn’t without flaws. The single most important thing when it comes to action platformers is perfectly tight controls, which I feel is unfortunately lacking here. Mainly, I’m not a fan that it’s not possible to dash in any direction, so it’s quite often I’ll dash left or right when actually trying to dash up because of the strict analog controls. This and the falling acceleration quickly become irritating as they easily throw you off when it’s necessary to complete a highly difficult area and even though I know it’s my own fault it feels cheap, not like something I want to keep going at to overcome. There are other common bugs and glitches too, like falling through or getting stuck to the edges of blocks but these are currently being ironed out by the dev team for the release on April 7th. From the beta, which allows bugs to be reported very easily, it’s clear to see how much effort is being put into fixing these issues and hopefully the game will continue to be supported so well after release.
In general, if minimalistic pixel art, relaxing chiptune music, or formidable platforming is your thing, Slime-san is something I’d definitely recommend. It may not be the all time great but it’s entertaining and absolutely packed with stuff to do. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up when you have 5 minutes to spare only to realise that you’ve lost a couple of hours. I know I’ll be going back for some of those harder to reach apples and to maybe even try my hand at some more time trials, although I’m pretty sure you have to actually be Slime-san to get them all.