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Spiriat – Review

Spiriat is a 2D flying dodge and collect game from LomaLort, making their first game. You play as a bird that is escaping a dark storm that chases you across various levels. In your path as you escape are various coloured orbs to collect but you’ll need avoid the storm orbs or you’ll be electrocuted. Poor birdie!

Each level ends with a chat to a spirit animal. The voices are full of reverb and difficult to dissect.

Spiriat’s strengths come from its graphical design and soundtrack. Each world is vibrantly coloured and uses the scrolling background to provide environmental storytelling. Your a spirit animal on a mission and its to inform humanity about prizing the planet and nature. As the world gets more industrialised and ravaged behind you, your character gets more distressed at the burden it has. At the end of each level you’ll meet another spirit animal to impart some knowledge before you move on. Musically, there’s a folksy acoustic guitar soundtrack that plays along gamely and speeds up or down depending on the powerups you collect.

Sadly, the level design and controls are not very compatible. Orbs move around so you need to dodge them whilst moving forward quickly as the storm behind you will take you out otherwise. There are two problems. Firstly, you can only use WASD, arrow keys or the d-pad on a controller and so you have little nuance on movement. Secondly, you move very fast, very quickly, with no cadence of movement. Its digital rather than analogue, so you move full tilt in one direction or nothing at all. This makes being precise utterly impossible, especially when later in the game you are expected to move up steep mountains or against wind flows. I spent most of my time bombing through levels, smashing into storm orbs and hoping I’d reach the end before I ran out of orbs. Orbs act as HP and each time you hit a storm orb you lose 10. Hit a storm orb with 0 normal orbs and its game over.

Hit the storm orbs and you lose 10 collected orbs until there’s none left. Its an exercise in frustration due to aggressive controls.

Whilst I like the premise, the game itself needs to be slowed down and more nuance given to the movement of your character. Without it, Spiriat feels aggressive and out of kilter with everything else around it. The soft soundtrack, the gentle animals… then movement that flies across the screen like a mouse setting on 10 speed. Add to that broken achievements and no save game features on launch and you have a game that is quite difficult to recommend. Hopefully this will be a great learning experience and some light user testing might nudge Spiriat in the right direction but for now, its not for me.

Review copy provided by developer. Spiriat is available on Steam.

Final Thoughts
Nice lovely visuals and soundtrack cannot cover up the extremely uneven control scheme.
Lovely vibrant art style.
Good use of environmental storytelling.
Control scheme and speed is so aggressive and extreme that its a struggle to be precise when trying to navigate and avoid obstacles.
No save game feature.
Lack of compass directions to move in, it feels like there's only 8.
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