Airscape: The Fall of Gravity PC Review
Can an octopus change how you see the world? If you said yes, then you should stop talking out loud; your coworkers will think you’re crazy. But I would go onto say that you are right, especially when it comes to Airscape: The Fall of Gravity, a game where your little octopus avatar shows you that everything, even up and down, are just a matter of perspective.
Airscape: The Fall of Gravity is the newest gravity defying, action platformer from Cross-Product. Airscape begins with your plucky little octopus swimming through the ocean blue without a care in the world. “What a perfectly peaceful world,” you think, “What could possibly go wrong?” The answer is plenty, as giant lasers shoot through the water dragging your little octopus up and out of the ocean. This alien-like abduction is just the beginning of many adventures for our octopus hero, soon he’ll be fighting robots, dodging UFOs, and even traveling to the void of outer-space.
In Airscape, you control the aforementioned octopus and your job is to rescue all of your little sea critter friends from the cold, unfeeling clutches of the “motorized menace,” a race of robots who are, for some reason, obsessed with keeping sea life in captivity (Oh man, are the mechanized menace supposed to represent humans?). As the first level opens you’ll find yourself alone on dry land. At this point Airscape plays like your run-of-the-mill platformer; you can move left, you can move right, you can jump. But you’ll quickly discover what makes Airscape so innovative and fun is the gravity and physics mechanics. In Airscape, every platform and floating island has it’s own gravitational field. Meaning that jumping from one platform to another shifts the character, and the camera’s orientation to a new plane of gravity. This gravity shifting mechanic means that the game’s camera is almost constantly rotating as you jump from mini planet to mini-planet like some kind of eight-legged Petit Prince. This mechanic takes on a whole new dimension when your environment changes from dry land to underwater. When you go underwater your speed, momentum, rules of physics, even the control scheme changes.
Having the gameplay shift so dramatically within a level feels very novel in an indie platformer, it’s refreshing to see such an emphasis put on keeping the gameplay varied, I find that too often games will introduce one interesting element or mechanic and then hope that that is enough to hold you interest through the end of the game. The developer cannot be accused of resting on their laurels, even in the final stages of the game, new types of environments are introduced that have their own twists on the gameplay, such as the space levels which add a low-gravity element to your character’s movement. Cross-Product also keeps the gameplay varied by giving you new octopi to control as you progress through the game. Each new octopus that you unlock has their own set of abilities, such as teleportation or flight, that can help you progress further in the game while also making areas in previous levels easier to beat.
Graphically, Airscape is very pretty, and compliments the gameplay well. The game doesn’t give you much in the way of backstory for any of the characters, but the art style conveys so much personality that the whole game feels like it could have been based on a pre-existing children’s cartoon. The sound design is also excellent; the score bounces happily along, perfectly matching the overall mood of the game. The sound also changes as you move in and out of the different areas of a level. For example, when your character is underwater, both the in-game sound and the music become slightly muffled. This helps to further immerse you into the game world and helps it to seem more fully realized.
I have very few issues to complain about in Airscape, but if I were asked on how to improve the game, my main issue would be its difficulty. Airscape is definitely challenging; getting past some of the level’s obstacles sometimes requires multiple deaths and retries. I’m not trying to criticize the game for being too difficult, I actually find it refreshing to see a game that doesn’t hold the player’s hand through the whole experience. But, for a game that is so charming and cartoonish, I think the game’s difficulty could be prohibitive to younger or more casual players. So my main suggestion would be to add an “easy” game mode, where your octopus would be able to sustain damage and still keep going rather than dying after one hit.
Airscape: The Fall of gravity is an action platformer that delivers on all that it promises. The gravity defying physics, inventive level design, and variety of charming characters all come together to make an extremely enjoyable gaming experience. Even though some may find the game’s difficulty to be daunting, it never feels like the game is being sadistically hard. Anyone who’s a fan of challenging, action platformers will definitely find plenty to keep them entertained.