Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Spheriums is an indie puzzle game that has an alien aesthetic and kickass music. It is a reasonably well-polished game that contains some flaws. Regardless, the game created by two gentlemen from Montreal Canada is fun and mysterious and I genuinely enjoy playing it assuming I don’t get stuck…
At the moment, Spheriums is in early access and it’s only playable on PC but is releasing on the Xbox Series X|S in future. That said, it is a game that drops players on an alien planet where they must discover new abilities and kill enemies. To do so, players must find various power-ups and items to stop the drainers from destroying the Spherium race. Players rely on technology that the Elders have hidden for them to use against the Drainer threat.
Spheriums contain several different alien types. Some can be eliminated with a basic shot while others require specialized ones. To get these abilities, players must explore the planet using their pinging ability. Unfortunately, this is where some of my issues lie with the game. It is incredibly easy to miss a pathway hidden behind breakable rocks. Even with the map and regular pings, I ran around the map a ton.
I mentioned that some aliens can only be destroyed by specific types of shots. As such, the game provides players with a journal to help guide players along. Additionally, players can purchase upgrades or news skills to allow for progression.
Graphics and UI
One aspect of Spheriums that stands out is its graphics style. It’s an animated landscape that is rather vibrant. And although the only ‘human’ element of the game is the trees, there are many cool-looking aliens and materials to discover. Despite the fact that Braintonik GameStudios consists of two gentlemen, they were able to create exciting and fresh worlds, creatures, and objects.
The UI in Spheriums is quite simplistic which allows for players to explore freely without being bogged down by information panels or excessive dialogue sections. Despite that fact, I feel as though it would be possible to add controller support in the future. I say that because players only need to switch between shots or powerups. Yep. The UI is compact and clean.
Audio and Music
An element that I really enjoy about Spheriums is the atmospheric music. It fits the aesthetics of the game rather well as it is synthesized. Reverb elements are used sparingly but in locations where it is necessary. For example, when players enter an area with several enemy threats, the music obviously crescendos to indicate so.
As for the rest of the audio elements, each different specialized shot has a unique sound. There is absolutely no question as to which shot is being used because some have a heftier thump sound while others sound like pea-shooters. Enemies also have unique audio cues ranging from an almost harmless sound to enemies accompanied by ‘meatier’ audio.
Overall, Spheriums nailed the sound design with each ability, creature, and weapon sound. Even atmospherically, the audio is on point in a way that doesn’t overtake the game experience.
The Good and the Bad
Most games aren’t flawless, especially ones that are in an Early Access stage. Spheriums is no different in that regard. I found myself being stuck in the first world due to a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is incredibly easy to miss some paths. While this isn’t an issue per se, it is frustrating that there isn’t more of a hint system to indicate the next location. Sure, the ping system helps to narrow down the next area, but the pathways aren’t obvious – compounding the issue. There are a couple of streams and YouTube videos of other players who kept running around ad naseum only to give up on the game. Devs, this may be something to address.
Another large issue I have with Spheriums is the lack of an ‘unstuck’ button. In world one, the large Drainer sticks to you like glue. I didn’t have the magnet ability to push it back. This meant that I was quite literally stuck against a wall with the Drainer in the way. And since I decided to play on story mode, I had to reload from my last save point.
To piggyback on this idea, I started over, thinking that I was screwed, but also because the devs released a patch that would break our games (although I don’t know how). In the second game, there is a powerup behind a door that needs to be moved by the magnet ability. I walked too close to the door and ended up being stuck there. I couldn’t move backward in the open area! Thus, the game needs an unstuck button.
Other Minor Issues:
- Drainer commander is glitched in world one. Shooting him stuns the guy but no amount of damage or button pressing got rid of it. Not even placing him on the platform helped. I’m literally stuck on the first planet in both games.
- There is no hint system. For example, a crucial item is not found like the others. This is likely not an issue in the regular game modes but in story mode, acquiring some objects are less obvious. Plus, pathways are sometimes hidden making players run around like chickens for long stretches of time.
- Respawn timer on crucial materials still feels a bit long. The dev post mentioned 8 minutes down from 10 but is that real-time or in-game time that isn’t shown?
- On occasion, shooting the plant turrets doesn’t work on a direct hit. It’s not an issue but I found it odd.
- There is no zoom on the map. I think this would help some players in their alien journey.
Overall Spheriums is a great game that has some minor setbacks. The overall look and feel of the title are quite interesting and cool. I love the different alien types and enjoyed discovering which objects were threatening and which were safe. Despite the fact that I ended up being stuck on the first planet due to some issues, I feel as though Spheriums is still a great game for players of varying ages!
Spheriums is an adventure game that takes players on a journey through several alien planets. Even in the Early Access stage, it is quite clean in style and UI but has some issues to be fixed in future patches. The discovery concept of these alien planets harkens back to games like Myst and Obduction, even though it isn’t as puzzle-heavy. Players looking for a fun indie adventure game will enjoy Spheriums as it is unique and suitable for a large age range!
Score: 8 / 10