Leave it to publisher Devolver Digital to bring along another weird, wacky, over-the-top, and frankly, unique title. I had a chance to play the first hour (58 minutes to be more precise, but more on that later) of Sludge Life 2. It’s a first-person, graffiti, platforming, exploration game. You know… another one of those.
I hadn’t played the original so I went into this preview hoping for something cool and different, and I got that and so much more. What did I play exactly? I’m not really sure, but that’s also not a bad thing and here’s why…
So Retro Bro
As you may be able to tell from the above trailer, Sludge Life 2 has a very wild and fantastical setting and presentation. From the bright colours to the weird and sometimes creepy characters, the game is here to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s in your face and unapologetic. It looks and sounds similar to its predecessor, but with some more polish.
Sludge Life 2 (or at least the preview I played), starts you off logging in to a hyperactive PC where you will be able to tweak settings and launch “apps” you eventually find throughout the game. It’s not just a pause screen, but a menu you’ll come back to over time. I was impressed by the presentation and retro feel of the whole thing, but it did feel a little too in my face at times and I felt like I needed to take a moment just to figure out what was happening.
Once you begin, you find yourself in a busted-down, grungy apartment where your friend Big Mud is suddenly missing. Who are they and who are you? Honestly, I had a hard time figuring that out. But ultimately that was ok because once you get out of the mess you’re in, it’s time to explore and create another one in the open world/city.
Explore a huger, weirder, gnarlier open world loaded with secrets, weirdos, jokes, and, of course, plenty of spots to tag.
Jump, Glide, Collect, and Tag
The weirdos and secrets are the keys to this game I think. Sludge Life 2 really encourages exploration and free roaming. At first, I was a little underwhelmed by the promise of nearly endless possibilities, but that changed after just five minutes when I suddenly found myself in a completely different area. Each building, scaffold, storage container, or boat is filled with dozens of characters and objects you can either interact with or collect.
Some of these city folk or workers might just be hanging out and taking a smoke break, or ordering a burger they’ve been waiting for three days. Maybe, they’re high in the sky chilling out when they offer you a mushroom to eat, and you take it, allowing you to fly high into the sky and take a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. Regardless of the interaction, each bit of dialogue is filled with funny, bizarre, and crazy stories. Some help direct you to your ultimate goal of finding your friend, but most are just an opportunity for a good chuckle.
The core gameplay comes down to some light jumping and climbing mechanics in order to collect items and graffiti or “tag” in 100 different spots around the city. It’s fun to find these sometimes hidden areas while conversing with random people. My issue came from the controls. Playing with a mouse and keyboard felt intuitive enough, but I had to drag the sensitivity way down in order to jump and climb even the simplest of gaps. Once I did that, the game flowed fairly well. I’m not sure if the wonkiness of the controls is intentional, but either way, it is still for better or for worse, added to the chaos that is Sludge Life 2.
I also unlocked a couple of items in my time including a glider that aided me in some of my longer jumps, and a teleporter that I couldn’t quite master in my time with the game. They were both fine, but that’s about it. Nothing too special aside from the quirky presentation of each.
Sludge Life 2 is just that. It oozes unique style and substance and that might work for you. I’m mixed about what it’s delivering at this point. I stopped at 58 minutes played, just short of the hour mark. The reason why: now save file will now carry over to the full-release game. A great idea and something that definitely incentivizes me to give the 1.0 release a try.
I found the chaotic nature of the game a little too much for my liking, while the traversal mechanics felt dated. It feels like this is intentional. Whether that’s your cup of tea or not, you can always grab the first Sludge Life game for free until March 30th.
[This impression article is based on an Early Access code offered by the publisher]