World Splitter launched without much pomp and it seems like it's flying under many radars, which is a shame since the puzzle-platformer has a lot to offer to those who like brain teasers.
NeoBird released their puzzle-platformer without a massive marketing campaign which will probably translate into many gamers not hearing about it. If this scenario would come to pass, and World Splitter got stuck under a pile of other games on digital stores, it would be a misfortune for both the devs who put immense effort into the design and the players who never got to see what the reality-altering puzzler has to offer.
That said, it is not a perfect piece of gaming history and it does have some drawbacks.
Gameplay and level design in World Splitter
Normally, these two parts of a review would warrant separate sections but NeoBird meshed gameplay and level design into a single entity that is not often seen in video gaming. The closest association coming off the top of my head would be the time travel level in Titanfall 2, Effect and Cause, where the player had to navigate between two parallel versions of the same map.
World Splitter, just like the name suggests, features a similar level design where the player is at all times playing two maps simultaneously. Considering that Titanfall 2 is primarily a shooter in 3D setting, the differences are obvious but it's important to keep them in mind as I go through the intricacies of World Splitter.
You are given control of a rift splits the map in two and you can move it in any direction or rotate it to suit your needs. Each side of the line will be from the opposite reality and you will have to manipulate both versions in order to complete the objectives and get to the next level.
As you may conclude from the image above, the first level is not particularly puzzling or that challenging. That is because the devs didn't just make challenging maps from the get-go, just to appease the brightest minds of gaming and no one else. World Splitter will introduce you to each new mechanic first and give you challenges after that.
Pacing and introduction to mechanics
This is another one of World Splitter's strong points. The game consists of six worlds, with 10 levels in each. The first five levels are always designed to get you used to a new mechanic they offer while the latter five are there to sharpen your skills through advanced maps. Furthermore, you can skip the latter five levels in each world if you don't feel like doing them.
By letting players skip the levels, NeoBird managed to give both sides of the gaming spectrum what they are after- casual players can skip through the most challenging puzzles in order to get to the end while those looking for brain teasers can simply rush through the first half of the world in order to get to the more complex designs.
Completionists and those looking to get the most out of the game will certainly be repeating the levels in order to acquire gold medals in time attack as well as rotation limits. The first one simply tasks players with beating a level under a certain time threshold while the latter forces you to rotate the rift sparingly and therefore have a harder time trying to solve the navigational puzzles.
Story and characters
There is no story to speak of in World Splitter. You are thrown in the boots of a space creature that seems to wear a mask akin to that of the Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy and you are trying to save alien creatures stuck in each level.
No dialogue is present and while all the creature has a whimsical charm about them, it's really hard to get invested into the NPCs or the main character. As such, you will probably find yourself leaving a space creature behind in a map or two and you will feel no remorse for it, besides the fact that you left the level incomplete.
World Splitter is a 2D game with cartoonish graphics so it's expected to run smoothly - and it does. While smooth performance is always desirable, it is not actually something that pushes the rating up in a game with not-so-complex graphics.
NeoBird did their job diligently in this department though. If you take a look at World Splitter's Steam page, you will see the game's system requirements are so minor that rigs from more than a decade ago can easily run it. The game also supports Windows 7.
While this game is not a space opera on the level of Mass Effect, it has its own unique charms. World Splitter has a brilliant fusion of gameplay and level design that is bound to leave a mark on your gaming career.
It is held back by elements such as storytelling or any form of character for either you or NPCs, which may be a result of budget restraints. That said, World Splitter is a puzzle game and as such, characters and storytelling should never take priority over gameplay and level design, which is something NeoBird obviously understood very well.