Precision platforming takes a lot to get right so seeing a small one man team tackling the genre is a brave but admirable task. Velocity Noodle has a lot of cyberpunk neon city style and a character who is loose and acrobatic to control. It is a shame that some of the level design and technical issues way down what has a lot of potential to be a great hidden gem game.
Your character just needs to deliver noodles but in this future, everyone is living in a strange high rise world full of death drops, spikes and cogs. You can run, dash forward, jump, double jump, wall jump and slide, slide under things and use your sword to teleport to various teleportation spots. The beauty of this move set is that you can combine a double jump with a dash then a teleport to cover really large distances and trying to find shortcuts is encouraged. When you slide and jump to chain moves together you also get a small momentum boost although it only affects your time on the clock, not whether you win or lose a round.
Across the games 48 stages you’ll need to get from A to B. There’s no mid level checkpoints and you have a two hit death system which you can sometimes exploit but fudging a jump to land on cogs. From chapter 2 onwards you also have to trigger switches to open doors and sometimes you have to hurt yourself to trigger them so precision is key. You will scream and swear at the screen – I certainly did – but that’s part of Velocity Noodle’s appeal and charm. It is hardcore and it knows it. You can choose to ignore the gold, silver and bronze timed trophies and the bonus collectable chopsticks and just focus on finishing levels. Indeed, most of my playtime was spent playing that way. However the speed runners among us will lap up the extremely tight time limits to find shortcuts, chain moves and make flawless runs for each level. You’ll be better than me, I never did get a gold and I probably never will! The challenge is there if you want it.
Whilst the game nails the neon aesthetic, sometimes its busy background and foreground aren’t so well distinguished. I kept running into things I thought I’d run passed and jump on things that weren’t there. The main issue I have with Velocity Noodle though is the lost inputs I kept getting. Sometimes my teleport wouldn’t trigger and about one in three slides wouldn’t trigger either. These would often cause me a death and restart. Your character is very floaty and I never really did understand fully the exact momentum and propulsion rules of the game, they felt a bit random. Some of this I think is down to the fact the game appeared to drop frames for me or just stutter slightly. I’ve not seen this on other peoples playthroughs and it occurred both when recording footage and just playing as standard. Maybe it was just my eyes but it made it difficult for me to be consistent and when the game is about timing and precision, that led to many deaths and a lot of frustration.
Talking of frustration – the boss battles in this game are a wind up. On top of all the precision platforming (and time trialling if you are a speed runner) you’ll need to evade overpowered drones ramming and chasing you. These represent some a difficulty spike (chapter 2 especially) that they felt needlessly harsh. I didn’t enjoy them at all because it didn’t matter if you were exacting, sometimes you’d just get hit anyway. There is also the issue of when moves reset, which is a personal preference thing. When you jump onto a wall and cling to it, your double jump should reset however I found that you’d have to press into a wall and stay there briefly before the jumps reset and I was jumping off too quickly. Then I’d fall to my death. I couldn’t get my brain to sit there for a half second when a timer was ticking so I felt at odds with myself sometimes.
Bosses aside, I did enjoy Velocity Noodle. There is a meaty challenge here but it does come with some warnings. The missing input problems really dragged down my experience – especially the slides across the floor. I found keyboard controls for that move worked so much better than the controller – but a controller worked better for everything else (and its how I’m used to playing so I have a bias that way). There is a rough gem here that with a bit of polish I think could be a great diversion for fans of precision platformers. It isn’t quite there yet but with a bit of TLC, I’m sure it’ll get there.
Review copy provided by developer.
Wrestling with some fiddly controls and busy visuals make this precision platformer one for genre fans only.
Very mobile and acrobatic.
Very challenging speedrunning element that is largely up to you if you pursue it.
Sometimes difficult to work out what you can and can't stand on.
Boss battles are not fun at all.
Controls seem to drop inputs and this may be down to frame drops too.
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