A new 2D platformer has been released for the Switch and we give our initial thoughts. At its heart Spirit Roots is a traditional 2D platformer inspired by classics such as Rayman. Developer Fireart Games have not taken many risks with Spirit Roots. It is all very familiar and while the presentation is slick, the controls are not as responsive as you would want from a platformer.
The game begins with the main character being separated from his family. In classic adventure format you must guide our reluctant hero back home through lands he is not welcome in. The intro describing the setting is engaging and we learn the world has been fractured with each species having their own territory.
Gameplay is very traditional with a double jump to bounce around levels and a melee and ranged attack. There were times when we thought we hit an enemy only to be killed. The hit detection has the odd wobble that leaves you a little frustrated. This is a platformer where precision is key and rushing will lead you into trouble.
It is all simple to learn and does not evolve as you move through the levels. If we were being harsh we could describe the gameplay as uninspired. You have three lives with checkpoints scattered around each level. Lose all three lives and you need to start the level again. Some may find this frustrating but as your skills improve you will die less often.
There is nothing that moves the genre forward and the lack of diversity in the enemies is disappointing. Each area only has two enemy types and that is simply not enough to keep you engaged. At the end of each area there is a boss battle that helps break up the repetition in the gameplay. The bosses are challenging, if unimaginative, and have attack patterns that will need to be learned.
The usual spikes, traps, puzzles and platforming action stands between you and the end of each level. To fully complete each area you must collect all the gold coins and defeat every enemy. This does add a little longevity if you are keen to 100% the game but you would really need to fall in love with the artstyle to want to revisit any levels.
There are five distinct areas containing the usual themes, woodland, desert and swamp. You get the idea. Again, it feels like a missed opportunity to develop the genre and this all feels a little safe. The environments are picturesque but this game could have benefitted from more scenery or objects to interact with.
Visually Spirit Roots is appealing, it shares its style with titles such as Steam World Dig. It may be pretty but the environments feel bland in places and many of the levels are repetitive in design. The animations are smooth and there are some nice details spread amongst the mediocrity. But overall this is not a title that will live long in the memory.
The soundtrack is forgettable and you struggle to feel any impact. Sound effects are basic for a modern game but do the job. When a game is already this bland, however, having a limp soundtrack is not doing Spirit Roots any favours.
There is a ot to like about Spirit Roots, challenging levels and bosses, decent visuals, it is just that everything has been done before. With a lack of variety in the platforming, combat or puzzles this game has wasted potential. If you are looking for a budget platformer this will be fine for a quick blast but if you are looking for a challenge or something new this is not it. Sadly there is little here to bring you back again once it is finished.