Release Date: December 5th, 2018 (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One)
Publisher: Sometimes You
Developer: Sometimes You
In light of our esteemed Editor-In-Chief posting her very first book review recently, now seems to be a great time to remind everyone of a critical rule: Never judge a book by its cover. Players should keep that in mind, even as initial impressions of games such as Fallout 76 seem to have been correct. There are also instances where the initial impressions can be incorrect, for the benefit or detriment of the game at hand. Here we have Sometimes You’s Energy Cycle Edge, which is a sequel to the 2016 seemingly well-received-by-fans original Energy Cycle. While players may not always enjoy their games, Sometimes You always seems to find games that have interesting concepts attached to them to publish, or even develop, on their own. Does the cover of Energy Cycle Edge adequately help the player judge the game, or will they be mislead?
The game’s key art and main menu prominently showcase a futuristic-looking female, and if a player just went off of that they would be sorely disappointed in this game. It is when a potential player looks deeper into the game and looks at the screenshots that they will see this is a puzzle game. With that said, those screenshots lure the player into thinking the game will be a fun little puzzler that will bring a few hours of gameplay. This is where things turn south as the game will leave the player frustrated and in a confused bundle of broken orbs. You see, this game assumes the player has played the original and not only does it have no tutorial at all, but it starts off very difficult, with no introductory levels to ease players into the game.
The steep learning curve and difficulty spikes are only made worse when level eleven, of forty-four total levels, adds the 3D element of the game into the fold. The premise of the game is to turn all the orbs in each level the same color. The first batch of levels begin on a 180-degree plane before the subsequent batches move to 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and finally a full cube plane. This causes the player to have to pay attention to different planes as each orb they change will also change the orbs it is attached to. Think of it as a video game version of a Rubik’s Cube that increasingly becomes more convoluted and difficult. One of the big things the game gets right is the chill, almost relaxing music in the background. It has a bit of an electronic music feeling to it but not the style that has gotten popular in recent years.
Despite the charming, often peaceful music, the difficulty of this game contradicts the tone of the soundtrack to the point of frustration. Another contradiction is the fact that the developers spent time, money, and resources on coming up with a character model for the key-art and menu screen and yet it is never used outside of that. In fact, that time and those resources could have been used to implement the missing tutorial mentioned above. All this just goes to prove that if the developers had used their time more wisely and included basic essentials to a game like this, they would have given players a better, more complete game.
Does this mean the game is horrible and should be avoided at all costs? Not all all. It just means that Energy Cycle Edge is not for everyone. If the player has never played the original and has no knowledge base of how the game is played, it may not be wise to pick this up. However, if they have played the original, love challenging puzzles, and/or has the time and patience to learn the ins and outs, this is a fine pickup. At the end of the day, this game is just a neutral release that will have players falling into two distinct camps with almost no middle ground to be found. Is there anything wrong with that? Not particularly; however, it also leaves the game falling at around the middle of the scoring range and sadly concluding that the cover of this book led everyone astray. (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Sometimes You.