Generally, when I play a game I look for strong characters, fun stories, and intriguing gameplay. Aspects like how much I want to replay it or great soundtracks are a bonus. Give me a couple from each category and I will likely play a game for a long time. Does Georifters fit the bill?
Candy, a girl who lives in Sweet Spot, a world made of candy, stumbles upon something strange. Vast rifts are appearing everywhere sucking up the oxygen. She sets out with her partner in crime, Chief, to investigate.
Only Candy is playable at first but Chief and others open up later. You jump and punch blocks to get through each of the ten stages per level. At the end of the day this is a platformer and puzzle-solving game. But there are several unique differences setting Georifters apart from its predecessors.
Later, I learn a few more useful abilities such as the bubble gum cannon and reset feature. Resetting reverts blocks into their original positions, which is incredibly helpful when stuck.
There’s also crystals to collect throughout the level. This is the rest of the game: collect crystals, shift blocks, and advance. The story itself is not terribly entertaining and I struggled to pay attention at times. There are new pieces of story at the end of each level if you make it before running out of lives.
Starting out with 15 lives seems great at first, with each including 5 hearts, or HP. You can collect orange hearts to make up for damage taken and green ones to gain an extra life. In the early part of the game losing HP and dying is not a huge issue. However, as the level difficulty increases, death is inevitable.
The worst feeling is running out of lives at the end of a level, because all of your progress is now a memory. Collecting crystals and using special abilities earns points at the end of each level. These can be cashed in for extra lives if running low. Early in the game I found myself purchasing these extra lives, until I found a better use.
The best use of points is purchasing cards and stickers. These give the opportunity to boost character abilities. Some are physical abilities such as increasing the characters speed of moving blocks. Others increase the benefit of their special power. You can unlock additional stickers by progressing through the adventure, including weapon enhancements and points bonus.
Speaking of weapons, later levels introduce them as an advanced way to take out enemies. Yes, enemies! This is a variable every few levels to distract from the monotony of collecting crystals, and it usually provides quite the challenge. Weapons such as throwing stars, mini-rockets, and elevators (which lift enemies temporarily off the screen) are available in the form of power-up icons. You can have a maximum of nine of one type only, but no need to hoard them as they respawn frequently.
Along the way you meet different characters on other planets every few levels. They tell you more about this crazy universe and offer to help on the search for where all the oxygen is going. Most of their skills involve transforming blocks in a variety of ways.
You switch between characters with different abilities for a few levels before flipping back to Candy for a few more. The constant switching can sometimes be burdensome, forgetting which abilities you have access to.
Rifts are the last component of the story. These are among the most challenging of all levels as they are time-bound. The goal is to move through the stages, by either collecting crystals or defeating enemies before time runs out. Collecting crystals adds a few seconds to the timer to keep you alive. But since you move at such a frantic pace, the enjoyment of the puzzle itself goes away.
The Georifters adventure can be played in co-op mode with a friend. Certain stages are incredibly easier by adding a friend, though it’s only local play, not online. Additionally, Battle Arena is available to fill your head-to-head desires. This mode boasts accessibility for up to four players at a time, but feels somewhat empty.
The stages are pulled right from Adventure mode. The objective is to race and collect more crystals than your friends over a 5-stage course. Choose one of the in-game characters (once unlocked) and battle with friends locally.
Controls, Graphics, and Sound
The controls in Georifters constantly challenged my patience. Often, they felt unresponsive and clunky, especially for a game requiring precise movement. With the cards and stickers, you can improve this through additional leveling and purchasing. Early in the game though, this isn’t always an option.
The graphics were great and they fit the overall theme of the game very well. Being in a land of where everything is made of candy lends itself to being cartoony and fun. And that’s exactly what the visuals do.
The sound is equally cartoony and upbeat, which fits great with the overall theme. Like any game where challenges are attempted dozens or hundreds of times, a good soundtrack will keep you positive and moving.
Lastly, Georifters throws in several extras outside of the core gameplay. Different costumes are unlocked at the end of each level for all the characters. The crystals collected in the game have a meaningful purpose here as they are the currency for equipping the costumes. Once equipped they are yours to change into permanently.
There are also badges, which offer no real value other than boasting with friends locally, often coinciding with the various achievements.
Georifters is a unique experience, but one I found myself often frustrated with. The different characters and abilities are fun, but constantly swapping between them is taxing. I never felt in the groove with any one character before being forced to swap to another. The story itself did not reel me in, and instead I kept playing more to solve the puzzles.
That said, I liked the different abilities of all of the characters. They felt distinct enough to give different dynamics, despite limited time with each one. The levels are carefully crafted to use specific characters in each one. But you wonder if there’s a missed opportunity for more dynamic levels.
The game has tremendous upside with online play, so being limited to local play is a weird choice. However, the retail price is only $29.99, so it’s hard to knock it too much for exclusion of this feature.
Overall, Georifters has enough fun to keep someone entertained for a few days, but I don’t believe the replay value is very high. Unless you are a completionist and want to collect all the crystals, you may not keep coming back to it. If you are looking for a fun quick game with multiplayer to bust out at parties once in a while, it could be for you.