With An Insane Difficulty Level, “TumbleSeed” Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

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From publisher aeiowu and a team of 5 indie developers from Chicago comes TumbleSeed, the brightly colored and intensely difficult action game where you are tasked with guiding a multi-powered seed up a mountain using only a vertically rising horizontal vine that you can tilt back and forth to dodge a constant onslaught of enemies and obstacles.

With a gameplay style that takes full advantage of the dual analog stick system, you control a special seed by pushing the analog sticks up or down in order to change the angle of a horizontal vine. You must carefully balance the seed while also avoiding a constantly growing number of enemies and natural threats as you attempt the incredibly difficult task of ascending the mountainside. You only have three hearts to make it to the top of the mountain, and unless you have the perfect strategy (and some insane luck) you will die. A lot. The difficulty level creates a steep learning curve and if you pair that with the general lack of control you have over the seed as you constantly tilt the vine back and forth you’re left with a game that is incredibly difficult to master and brutally punishing towards any mistake you as the player make.

Your seed comes with the ability to wield a variety of different powers that you are able to acquire and master throughout your journey. You start each run with four different ability options, three tactical type powers and one combat type power, that each require crystals to use. You simply roll your seed over a specific seed patch and the power you’ve currently selected will activate and charge you a crystal. Crystals can be picked up in the wild and also generated using one of the seed powers that lets you generate a few crystals. There are over 30 powers to master, but it’s important to know that not all powers are created equal. There are certainly a few dud powers, but definitely some you shouldn’t attempt a run without.

One of the more unique features of this game is that each run is a completely new landscape. This bodes well for replay value because the game continually feels fresh and new. This element is absolutely necessary in my opinion, especially considering that the high level of difficulty will certainly cause you to have more than just a few “Game Over” moments. However, this can also be frustrating because at each restart you lose all previous progress; which includes losing any non-starter power ups and crystals you’ve collected during an earlier run. This has certainly left me feeling very frustrated at times during my play-through of this game.

In reading more about the development of this game, it was very clear that the developers wanted to treat this title as the “flagship” demonstration of the Nintendo Switch’s HD Rumble capability. The goal was to create an experience where the fine tuned vibrations of the HD Rumble would aid the player in understanding the speed and direction at which the seed was rolling, and I think the developers did a great job of creating this experience. It added a new element that helped me gain a better understanding of controlling the seed, something that this game doesn’t really allow the player to feel otherwise.

Graphically, I was especially impressed with the game’s ability to combine brightly colored figures with soft textures. Add in the fact that each environment has a unique color scheme that works very well for the section of the mountain you are on and you have a very well thought out visual design.

The soundtrack also worked well for what it was designed to accomplish. As you experience the chaos that is guiding the seed up the mountain, the soundtrack serves as a calming factor to all of the madness surrounding you. It’s almost like the HD Rumble feature, not necessarily the most noticeable, but something that adds another layer to the gameplay experience.

 

In playing this game I found myself feeling more frustration than enjoyment. I was hoping that if I could move past the insane difficulty level (which trust me takes a lot of time, effort, and luck to do) and resulting feeling of gameplay redundancy TumbleSeed would reveal itself as containing more, but ultimately I was less impressed than I hope to be.

 

6/10

Pros:

High Replay Value

 

Cons:

Crazy Difficult

Redundant Gameplay

Priced too high

 

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