When I first heard about Tumbleseed, I admit it, I was more confused than anything else, how could rolling a ball up a mountain be entertaining, now that I have played it, I can say that it is entertaining.
While the game does contain a story, I never got to the ending, so I can’t state one way or the other if it is worth playing the game, to enjoy the story. You are the chosen seed, who has to make their way up the mountain to stop the calamity that has begun to impact everyone, because in the past, seed kind moved to this mountain, where there was water and now they need to save their home. Due to the story telling you parts as you explore, you actually need to get to the top of the mountain in order to get the ending and I never did.
That shows that the game is challenging and more often than not you will die and not because the game throws cheap moments right before you, but simply because you over corrected. The object of the game is to make your way towards the top, the challenge is that each time you restart the game, the level is different, the layout, the enemies and the weather. Using both sticks, you push them up to move your platform, push the left stick up and left the right alone and the platform will start to move up on the left, causing your seed to roll down towards the other side. Using this method of movement is where you are going to need to practice heaps, as a slight incline will be enough to slow your roll, but if you raise one side up way too much, then you will reverse direction very fast, which then results with you needing to correct your actions, thus the overcorrection.
While moving about the place is key, you can switch up your seed powers on the fly, the default power is the checkpoint flag option, which when planted, grants you a checkpoint. In order to plant though, you need to collect little gems, which are scattered across the world, each gem you collect will let you plant a flag in the patches of dirt you can plant in, but as you can plant flag after flag, whenever you have the gems, you need to ensure you don’t plant unless you want to. As you make your way throughout the world though, you will also unlock additional seed powers, there is a thorn power that gives you protective thorns around yourself, helpful to make the many creatures that hurt you back away. Another will let you plant hearts, plant enough and you can gain back a lost heart. There are also laser seeds, bomb seeds and more to discover, with each seed power having a different cost to plant, you need to balance out your use of gems, as there is nothing worse than needing a set amount only to have wasted it on something else.
The worlds themselves as generated randomly, which means that each and everytime that you load the game up, you are going to experience something different. The worlds are full of holes, thanks to the worms that are causing the issues, some of the holes are large and easy enough to avoid, some are much smaller and some will appear in your way. The holes themselves actually can help you out, some land based creatures can’t cross them, just like you can’t, but there are times when rain will come and fill the holes with water, letting you move across them nice and safely. Some holes however hide terrible traps, occasionally you will see a creature hiding in one, if you get to close, it will launch into the air and then bash down into the ground where you are. The other ones to watch out for are the bombs, if you get to close, they will countdown and then explode and if you are caught in the blast radius, you will lose a heart and get launched into the air. Knowing what is safe and what not is only part of the battle, but thanks to the random levels, you will always need to keep an eye out for dangers.
Of course, speaking about keeping your eyes on the game, the visuals are actually quite nice to look at, to me I get the feeling of that the world is made of paper, thanks in part to the shapes of everything, but also the layers that the game applies. Anything with a thick black line around it means you can’t go through it, so if you are rolling towards something with that line, it will stop you, but for everything else, you will pass behind the item. Even the animation of you dying is wonderfully simple, but like the gameplay, you can’t mistake simple for lack of effort, the entire game world is full of charm, thanks to this visual style that the developer has used, the other seeds that live in the smattering of towns, come in all shapes and sizes and while none of mouths or hands, they are still expressive.
From an audio point of view the game has a simple sound design, from the sounds of the seedlings, to the creatures and the ambient world noises, nothing is trying to force its way to the front, each aspect is working in conjunction with the rest. The music remains in the background, highlighting the actions that take place on screen and while the title music is very nice, nothing ever really pops out as a must listen to track.
Tumbleseed’s greatest draw card is its challenge, but at the same time, that challenge will turn people away. The visuals offer a calm appeal that helps balance that challenge, but I honestly don’t know if that is enough.
The game was provided for review by aieowu.