It’s normal for humans to wonder about worlds beyond our own. This universe is a big place getting bigger every day and we’ve barely scratched its surface. Although, it’s not just other planets we’re dreaming of, but also the possibility of other dimensions. This idea has been explored in the media just as much as space travel and Alien Pixel Studios will explore it in their own way. Their game Unbound: Worlds Apart is about exploring several worlds while peeking into many others. It takes the ideas of how these different realms might affect someone and makes them part of the adventure.
Unbound From What?
When you pick up a fantasy story there’s a large chance some sort of world-threatening evil force is going to be involved. This time it’s the Corruption, emanating from the Demon King and ruler of Umberra, the very first world in this universe. His power has grown to the point where it can break through barriers and destroy other dimensions. The only one standing in its way is a young mage child named Soli who has the mysterious ability to open windows to other worlds. While he can’t use them to travel, Soli can use the properties of these dimensions to alter aspects of the world he’s exploring. It’s a huge responsibility to put on a kid’s shoulders, but it’s not like he can just give the power away.
Anyone who’s ever made a book will tell you that you need to make the bindings nice and tight. The book of Unbound has some very tight points along its spine. The first is the portal mechanic. While this has usually been used in other games as a way to get around or transfer objects, here it’s used to affect how parts of the level behave. There are several kinds of portals that do various things from removing blocks to changing Soli’s appearance. It’s a fun and interesting tool for a puzzle solver to have.
This is also a very challenging game as both a platformer and a puzzler. Despite the number of creatures Soli encounters, he has no consistent means of defense so you need to be clever. You need to use portals, movement, and the environment to avoid them, eliminate them or use them to progress. When it comes to platforming, the game has a variety of casual and precision segments for you to flex your skills.
Then there’s the aesthetic of the game. The art looks smooth and magical to complement the fantasy theme with a lot of work going into the backgrounds. Each portal has a distinct effect on the area where you use it giving you a literal change of scenery whenever you want.
Binding can be an intricate process and if even just one string is out of place, then the whole thing can fall apart. Sadly, Unbound has a few loose threads that can cause it to unravel. A big one is the consistency of exploration. There are a fair number of hard-to-reach places but they’re relatively noticeable. Despite how large regions are, there’s only a handful of hidden secret areas that all follow different rules making it frustrating to find them especially when there’s no indicator that they’re a part of the game.
Next is the level of difficulty combined with precision imbalance. Soli can only take one hit and his hitbox feels very sensitive to even the slightest hazard. There are many moments where you’ll miss a jump if you don’t leap at the very last pixel of the platform. Combined with the fact that a recurring action is needing to double-tap the portal button awkwardly while trying to thread a needle in the air, it can make for a very enraging experience. Expect to die a lot especially during one of the game’s many gauntlet sequences.
Last but not least are some technical issues. First, there’s the fact that a map will sometimes fill in rooms that you haven’t even been to or include areas that aren’t actually meant to be explored. Second, there are a few times that you may notice Soli get stuck on a platform or fail to recognize button inputs which get incredibly frustrating during precision segments. Finally, there’s a small but noticeable issue of achievements not being recognized.
Bound For Adventure
Unbound: Worlds Apart is a puzzle platformer where you use portals to navigate through the world. It has a cool mechanic with lots of variety and challenges to boot while looking good too. It may be held back by some sensitivity, unclear exploration, and technical bugs but you can get used to it. If you’re bound for something creative that tests your skill then take up Unbound.
TechRaptor reviewed Unbound: Worlds Apart on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
- A Creative Gameplay Mechanic
- Challenging Platforming and Solid Puzzles
- Colorful and Magical Art
- Inconsistent Exploration Aspects
- Sensitive Hitbox and Serious Precision
- Unexplorable Aapped Areas and Clipping