ROBBIE SWIFTHAND AND THE ORB OF MYSTERIES
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on September 17, 2018
Whoever said a thief never amounts to anything? In this case, a thief might just be the only one standing between us and the total destruction of all we hold dear! The thief in question is called Robbie Swifthand and he is the world's, albeit somewhat unwilling, hero in dark times. Now, to say that Robbie volunteered to save the world is somewhat of a stretch, because he just might have been tricked into going on this noble quest...
You see, the world is in danger! Or, at least, that's what a mysterious spirit tells Robbie when he wakes up in a room he doesn't remember going to sleep in! As the spirit continues its story, it tells Robbie that a long, long time ago, a truly evil spirit was hell-bent on destroying humanity. Luckily, this spirit was captured and sealed in a mystical temple. Now, the sprit is trying to break free, so someone has to go into the temple and reinforce the magic locks that keep the evil spirit in check. And guess who is the lucky adventurer who is chosen to perform this awesome task... yes, it's Robbie Swifthand himself! Apparently, Robbie's cat-burgling skills are all that stand between humanity and total annihilation... no pressure, right?!
Now, being of the "all-stuff-is-potentially-mine" persuasion, Robbie does not really care what happens to humanity. As far as he's concerned, humanity is made up out of everyone who is not him. But, as soon as the spirit "assures" him that there is a great amount of treasure to be had from this adventure, Robbie is all ears! With his mind set on amassing lots and lots of treasure and becoming filthy rich in the process, Robbie sets out to do the spirit's bidding and enters the temple, where he quickly finds out that getting to where he needs to go will not be a walk in the park... unless that park contains mysterious glowing orbs and, oh yes, countless death traps!
Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries is a platform / puzzle game that will test the very limits of Robbie's agility, as well as the player's patience and resilience to unforgiving punishment. The fun thing about the game is that it contains no enemies, except for the three bosses you encounter at the end of every world). Now, before you go thinking that this is going to be an easy adventure, there is one thing you should know; although there are no enemy characters in the normal levels, the environment itself is your enemy... Throughout the levels, you must survive, among other things, a barrage of swinging axes, impaling spikes, giant spinning wheels of death and destruction, falling bricks, bolts of electricity and even boiling lava. Now, if that doesn't guarantee a dangerous time, I don't know what will!
This is where Robbie's thieving skills come in really handy! Having had extensive training in the "sneaking-around-and-pinching-stuff-without-being-seen" department, Robbie knows how to keep his head down; something which, incidentally, is a very good idea when you've got big double-headed axes swinging from the ceiling... His agility means that he can jump a fair distance and can even perform a high-jump if he crouches first and then jumps. This makes him able to reach higher ledges and make his way across somewhat wider gaps. Now, of course, one cannot expect that these abilities are enough to make it all the way through the entire temple. This is where our spirit friend comes in. After successfully making it through a world, Robbie gains a new ability After world one, he gains the ability to perform a double jump, which enables him to jump even higher and further. After completing world two, Robbie earns his wings... literally! A pair of mystical wings unfolds at the press of a button and Robbie can majestically glide over obstacles and wide gaps.
At this point, I can almost hear you think: "Now, Sadhonker, old boy; you've mentioned worlds a couple of times now. What ARE you talking about?" Well, most observant reader, Robbie's quest is divided into three worlds, each equally challenging, but with a slightly different feel to them. World one looks and feels like a temple environment. In world two, we descend into a sort of cavernous environment and world three sees us delving even deeper and encountering levels with blistering lave pits and such. Each world contains a number of specific challenges that can only be completed by using the skills you have learned so far. For instance, it is quite impossible to get through the second world without using your double jump ability. And there's a fun little extra hidden in the game. Let's just say that if you, after the game has been fully released, only manage to find three of these worlds, you might not have been looking hard enough...
For those among us who are partial to secret areas and such, Robbie Swifthand contains a number of secrets for you to find. While making your way through the levels, keep your eyes peeled for suspicious-looking patches of wall and ceiling. These patches may hide a secret room in which gold coins can be found! Going after these hidden treasures makes the game even more challenging than it already is! As such, the coins don't actually grant you powerups or other stuff, but it does give you a feeling of accomplishment, which is probably going to be balanced out by the ever-present Death Counter...
To keep you grounded, however, the developers at Pixel Reign incorporated a death counter in the game. Every time you die, the game shows you how many times you have led Robbie to his doom. I like this simple mechanic; it gives you the incentive to do better next time! And, if shoving your failures into your face time and again wasn't enough, there will be a semi-transparent blue Robbie corpse in the spots where you died during the remainder of the level. Now, I was doing fine, right up until the second boss fight. Sure, I died a couple of times, but nothing major. Now, this second boss-fight was something different all-together. Let's just say that the ground of the cave I found myself in looked like a blue mess after a while...
I can only say that I really, really, really, REALLY like Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries! The game is truly challenging but, and I personally think that this is very important, none of my deaths were the game's fault! Every time Robbie got impaled, electrified, burned or otherwise led to his demise was totally my own fault. I miscalculated my jump over a swinging axe or failed to see a set of impaling spikes, hidden in the grass. Now, in some games, the dying over and over again gets really old really fast, but not in Robbie Swifthand. The only thing it does in this game is make you want to do better next time! This might be because the levels themselves are not that over-expansive or overly long. Because when you die with the exit in sight, you cannot help but try again!
Visually, Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries looks really cool. It utilizes a beautifully drawn comic-like art style to get its message across. I particularly liked the lighting of the levels; it gives the levels a mysterious and somewhat dreamy feel! The game's soundtrack only enhances the overall experience; the music and SFX works together with the visuals to create a fun yet thrilling experience and manages to be nothing less than brilliant at places like, for example, during the second boss fight. I especially like the fact that you do not need to finish all levels in a world to complete it. You can choose a path towards the world's boss, so if you can't quite get through a specific level, don't despair; there may be a way to get around it instead of through it! Of course, you will want to check out every single level in the game, but this mechanic makes it possible to circumnavigate certain levels when they prove too difficult right now.
This about wraps things up for this review of Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries. The only thing left for me to do, is to go back and try to complete absolutely everything the game has to offer. So, let us venture forth! Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. And here's just a little piece of advice: be Swift, or be dead... very, very dead... again... and again... and again!
ROBBIE SWIFTHAND AND THE ORB OF MYSTERIES
September 20, 2018