Developer: Nyamakop Studios
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
It seems like there a lot of indie game studios right now who are trying to redefine the platforming. Obviously some are more successful than others and Semblance, the debut game from South Africa-based studio, Nyamakop, falls solidly in the success category when it comes to innovation. There isn’t much in the way of hand-holding or straightforward narrative but once I wrapped my head around the games structure, my time with it, if not particularly challenging, became a ton of fun and even pretty rewarding.
The object of Semblance is to traverse an abstract platforming world, entering giant trees and collecting pink orbs within them. Collecting these orbs requires some puzzle-solving which is done through learning different abilities and using them to morph the very world around you. You can do things like headbutt certain platforms to stretch and deform them or use your reversal powers to lift obstacles out of your way in order to reach your goal. Some orbs will not be reachable without certain powers so backtracking is definitely a part of this game although it never really bothered me much.
The graphics are simple yet sharp, and though it took some getting used to, I really enjoyed the overall art style of the game. This is a starter company and a very small game but it delivers in much bigger ways than other games of its size. It looks excellent handheld and holds its own on the big screen as well. Sound and music are comparably enjoyable. Sweet and simple, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The gameplay is incredibly fluid and feels just right on the Nintendo Switch. This is a great title to pick up and play on the go. It feels like a lot of these Switch indies titles are going for an elevated mobile game approach and Semblance is a great blueprint for that.
Overall, I didn’t find much I didn’t like about this game, but it is quite short. I finished it in around 2 hours but I enjoyed pretty much all of it. The “story” is very abstract but you don’t really need to get that in depth to appreciate Semblance and its themes. It’s about nature and respecting the world around us and its presented in a light, enjoyable way, loaded with addictive gameplay that will keep you glued to this game for its entire sweet, if too-short, journey.