The Plane Effect is full of visual intrigue and skill. From its muted colour design to its use of parallax movement in an isometric world to its soul sucking near future environment, The Plane Effect is teeming with visual effects. All of them are to draw you into a world and a story that is oppressive, dystopian and sometimes like a screwed up dream. Fans of Inside will love the ideas presented here.
You play as Solo, leaving work for the day to get home to his family but the world outside has gone mad. Everything is disconnecting him from what normal used to be and placing him in a weird industrial and creature riddled hell. HIs family home is now a crime scene. Giant ants try to eat you. You’ll be swimming around to avoid evil jellyfish and sharks. What a crazy commute! Of course, this is all a visual feast for you to unpick and place subtext onto. Is corporate greed taking us away from our loved ones? (Yes).
Each area has a selection of puzzles viewed isometrically and you walk, run and jump around them. Working out what you can interact with is half the work in The Plane Effect but the other is working out what order you need to interact with them in. This is because like a traditional point and click adventure, you can’t pick up the oil can until Solo has visited the cogs he needs to oil first. This might put a few people off but as the puzzles constantly change over the course the game visually, I wasn’t tired of it. Indeed, some of them are quite wacky and entertaining like using a white rabbit in a wheel to chase a holographic carrot so it powers open a door. Every so often, you’ll end up back in your office but each time it’s been manipulated by time or physics. I found these mini puzzles to be a joy to discover as finding your kids paper plane brings you back to reality again and grounds you. It’s a nice touch stylistically and from a puzzle perspective.
If you are worried about puzzles, fear not. The Plane Effect has a great difficulty selection process that you can switch on the fly that opens the game up for all. You can have the hardest mode which clears out any UI from the game, normal mode which highlights things you can interact with and guided mode. This lets you press a button to bring up a line that directs you to the next thing you need to pick up or press to continue on. This still means you need to complete the platforming elements but there are less of those in the game and lets the most casual player enjoy the story and world.
Platforming is my biggest gripe with The Plane Effect. It is wildly inconsistent and doesn’t scale correctly in the isometric world. All too often I’d not understand where I was in relation to a platform and sometimes just walking on narrow paths to turn corners meant I’d fall off through misalignment. This bleeds into timed platform events too and it made a few sections of the game quite frustrating. If this could be tightened up post release, it would improve the game immensely. Whilst puzzles were a bit random and abstract, often you only have a few variations to work out what to do next from so you can trial and error it as a last resort. I also ran into two bugs where switches to make platforms safe to cross didn’t change the state of them and prevented me from continuing the game. I had to back out and reload from the last checkpoint.
Those things combined brought down my overall enjoyment of The Plane Effect but where the game shines is in its atmosphere. The world you live in feels so oppressed, dense, muted and miserable – its a work of art to see in it play out. From a story perspective, I had fun picking apart visual metaphors and subtext but I can appreciate that’s not for everyone. If you want a story or an idea that you can chew on, or a dystopian world you can wander through like a trippy dream – The Plane Effect will be a great addition for you.
Review copy provided by publisher.
The Plane Effect
Visually stunning and full of great ideas but be aware you'll need to wrestle some unruly platforming controls in the process.
Superb art direction.
Puzzles constantly change their settings so whilst its usually press this, press that, it doesn't get stale like you'd think it might do.
Tries its best to not repeat the same ideas more than twice.
Guided mode lets anyone play.
Moving and specifically jumping with Solo is not satisfying or accurate.
A few bugs where puzzles didn't seem to move on that required a restart from the last checkpoint.
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