Genre-blends. Done well, they’re a blast. Done poorly, as is often the case, and the player can only wonder how what might have been a beautiful idea was warped into something so hideous. But usually, the genres blended are only two distinct ones, possibly three.
With the example of Concursion, however, all limits are broken with many different types of games mashed together into one. And make no mistake, this game isn’t representing the best of them all.
This is a game that seemingly defies explanation, but really boils down to a single focus: what if a dimensional rift or series of such changed the world the characters were in – and, by extension, the type of gameplay?
Concursion plays with the idea that different gameplay styles are present in parallel dimensions. The story behind such a situation is simple enough: little dragon monsters are creating these dimensional rifts. They’ve also kidnapped a princess. So when the knight begins his quest he quickly comes across holes in the world that, upon entering, transform him into something completely different – say, a ninja or a pilot in a spaceship.
As the focus is definitely on these blends and mixes between the five gameplay modes – standard platformer, jetpacking, ninja hack’n’slash, space rail shooter, and Pacman – it’s no surprise that each individual game is very simple, very easy, and not all that great. With a lack of focus comes a lack of depth.
What’s worse is Concursion’s homepage claims “your knowledge of traditional platformers will be flipped on its head.” Unfortunately, this is supremely far from the case. Despite the novel mechanic of jumping between game types, each different game type plays out in the most boring, overdone, and stereortypical way possible.
The game navigates through worlds consisting of a couple dozen levels or so, each a mix of the various types of gameplay. Players use two action buttons and the four directions to clumsily navigate their way through each level collecting crystal shards (or not). There’s no time limit, but the 5 fastest level times globally are recorded in a mini hall of fame. Each level will almost always include at least two gameplay modes, and at first the leap might be jarring.
However, switching between those game modes is supremely fluid. Delineated by animated MSPaint-spraycan-style borders, the lack of graphical intensity and simple to the point of gradeschool-level gameplay makes going from a guy who jumps on monsters to a Pacman to a spaceship very easy. The limit of two buttons and the four directions helps as well, keeping things simple and… *yawn*… expected.
The narrative surrounding Concursion is similarly simple, and doesn’t take up too much attention. Dark Lord Biganbad (get it?) kidnaps a princess, a handmaiden chases after her unsuccessfully, and the knight follows in their wake doing all the work and collecing crystal shards to undo the terrible dimensional havoc wrought upon the land.
But here’s the problem: it’s not fun. Forgetting that there’s no narrative reason to be invested in the game, a player relies on fun gameplay to make the experience worthwhile. The issue with Concursion is that the gameplay modes and the switching between them, while novel, isn’t really fun. Each game plays out like a free browser game from the 90s, but not as addicting.
Stylistically, Concursion gets a big gold star (and a plate of “brownies”). Though the graphics are simplistic, the game itself has a wonderfully quirky atmosphere exponentially enhanced by the hilariously hip music. If a player finds themself shimmying in their seat after beating a level, they should not be ashamed.
Despite fantastic music and a very trippy aesthetic, Concursion’s overall impression is a pretty bad one. This isn’t a game players will show their friends insisting that they give it a try; Concursion is a game that players call their friends over for a laugh or two at its absurdity.
Concursion is not a good game. This isn’t to say it’s hard to play – the controls work, but lack crispness. It’s not to say the game isn’t imaginative – it is, but only in a couple small ways. The impact of Concursion is in its style, but the ingredients of narrative and/or gameplay are missing the quantities needed for this to be a decent title.
Concursion isn’t a game that has a lot of potential as it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, just in an underwhelming manner. This isn’t really a game worth playing except for a little bit of amazement. If you’ve got 10 bucks to blow on a perfect mix of 5 crappy games, Concursion is the game for you.
[+Innovative gameplay idea] [+Seamless gameplay switching] [+Hilarious style] [-Boring] [-Different game modes are very badly executed] [-Overly simple]