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Review: Worldless

Worldless begins with the notion that this world is not ours but one at the earliest onsets of conception. Noname Studio’s Metroidvania features two factions at war for control across the light and the dark. As such, you know what to expect in a title where two sides are vying for control of everything. Endless turmoil fuels both sides of the war, yet no one is sure why the other continues to fight. It isn’t explicitly stated why these two groups are at arms, yet, this is how the world turns – in an endless battle.

Firstly, Worldless is a platformer with an impressive aesthetic showcasing simplicity. Your first task is maneuvering the environment as you explore several serene and exciting locations filled with various platforms and sometimes. You play as a soldier from the blue faction who must explore the expanse before you after a tragedy. Not long after, you’ll encounter a soldier from the opposing red faction before coming to blows with them.

Worldless Is More Show Than Tell

Combat is a 180 from the platforming experience Worldless offers players. It is essentially turn-based combat where you can unleash a physical or magical attack each turn before switching to a defensive stance. Each encounter is a game of rock, paper, and scissors depending on the enemy in front of you. Some might be impervious to magic, so you’ll need to strike with melee skills and vice versa, for example, as you seek to identify a weakness and then take advantage of it to overcome your opponent.

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Combat starts feeling simplistic, but it isn’t long after that you notice changes. For one, while you may begin a battle by facing an enemy with a shield, with the goal being a simplistic game of whittling away at an enemy’s shield, not long after, it turns into having to either absorb or kill your opponent. A new absorb meter will allow you to choose battle to decide how you approach an enemy, whether to kill or absorb them. The fastest way to absorb an enemy is by matching their attacks to their weakness. Still, the system encourages you to structure attacks and not spam the same button repeatedly or risk absorbing at a slower pace. As soon as you fill the absorption meter, you can apply that energy to the skill tree to add new abilities.

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The skill tree isn’t the most exciting skill tree I’ve come across, but it offers enough variety to allow you to build combos in new ways while adding moves to boost your absorption rate. Thankfully, enemy variety is decent, and you’ll come across small and large opponents that challenge the player. In some cases, I found there was a difficulty spike, but the open-ended design of the world means you can head in a different direction to continue onward.

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A Young World Looking To Find Its Identity

As excellent as combat and traversal feel, the narrative is all show and no tell. It tries to serve itself as a Souls game, but it doesn’t seem to understand how to keep things vague. It also offers enough information to satiate the player’s curiosity. The build-up to anything remotely interesting takes ages, and it doesn’t flow well. There’s only so much text can do in a video game these days, and audio is a beautiful way to pull your audience in, even with the slightest hints.

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To drive my point home further, there is minimal backstory for your character as they are simply the protagonist, and that is it. You’re not introduced to the player or learn who, what, or why they are the playable character.

Thankfully platforming is some of the best sections in Worldless. There are double jumps, air dashes, and tons of exciting ways to interact with the environment that make these sections that often introduce ethereal landscapes to the player begging to be explored. Mixed in are puzzles that will help you navigate the world, and as you acquire skills to explore, the pacing opens up and teaches you how to use your arsenal of skills to great success.

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Verdict

Worldless is a fun little Metroidvania title with tons of confidence in what it does. While not everything comes together, like the storytelling, the combat and exploration stand above. Despite some difficulty spikes in combat, the rest comes together in a neat package that sadly stumbles due to some vague storytelling.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

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Review: Worldless
Summary
Worldless is a fun little Metroidvania title with tons of confidence in what it does.
Liked
Visuals are incredible
Excellent platforming sections
Combat is fun but fair, yet challenging
Didn't Like
Story is obsolete
Some difficulty spikes