Friday, January 27, 2017

Indie Impressions - Ellipsis


Now Available on Steam

Developed by Salmi Games 


The most addictive games come in the most simple seeming of packages. And simple is only what Ellipsis appears to be on the surface. A geometrical avoid 'em up of abstract neon vectors. Mazes of lazer-light obstacle courses and seas of deadly shapes unfold through stages on a flourishing map of abstract trails for you to blaze. No shooting and no attacking, this is an absolute test of reflex and accuracy as you wind through the neon corridors and avoid the complex contraptions in your path.

People who remember the Iraira Bou (Irritating Maze) style of games from Japan will see similarities in the addictive and punishingly pinpoint obstacle navigating gameplay. The movement of your small blue orb through these psychedelic fields of aggressive obstacles and enemies is incredibly precise. It's so precise it made me realize I need a better mouse, as every sudden motion and flinch of your wrist is responded to with such accurate sensitivity. The game is also playable with a gamepad but I found the needed precision to be best with a mouse as many of the later stages require such accuracy and speed that a stick just won't cut it.

The stages are quick, incredibly fast paced and to the point. Each one contains five orbs to collect, and each orb appears in progressively precarious positions. Collecting each orb isn't as easy as it seems, as the points they contain spill out once touched. Collecting four consecutively appearing orbs creates a gate, and the fifth orb that appears is optional and usually incredibly hard to reach in comparison.

A seriously sweet slice of bright and beautiful arcade chaos. The simple and minimal but enticingly colorful visual style starts with a retro elegance then quickly spirals into a chaotic neon ballet along with the growing complexity of each level. Glowing red triangles that group like a psychedelic school of fish chase you down, rotating orange turrets track your movements down with a hail of bullets, and spike-y blue bombs explode in a large radius when you get close enough. The variety of obstacles and colorful geometrical enemies is incredibly broad, I was blown away by the amount of new and inventive threats I was being killed by even far into the chaotically large and vibrant stage map.

As you complete each lightning quick stage the map expands. As it expands a living world of retro lighting and visuals opens up. Alternate paths branch and turn through a busy overworld and bright lights travel across lines like the circuits of some colorful motherboard. The completion of stages and the building of this impressive overworld map is a accompanied by an ambient droning, soft enough to lull into into a false sense of comfort before your assured demise.

Ellipsis is a formula of purely distilled arcade mechanics, the best of the best that have stood the test of time. The core of what makes shoot'emups and action games so fun to begin with, the dodging and avoiding of walls of bullets that lets the player feel like a badass. It's something I keep coming back to over and over again, because it scratches a purely reflex based itch that most games these days can't scratch. The sounds and visuals draw you into Ellipsis's addictive world, and top off an already complete package for something that is a treat to all of your senses.

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