Gravity Duck – Xbox One Review
Gravity Duck is a game that likes to keep things simple, a puzzle platformer that has a solid concept which makes you think without being too complicated, but tends to frustrate with its gameplay rather than with its conundrums. The game gives you in essence what it says on the box, as you play the part of a blocky yellow duck in this 8 bit retro style outing, and you traverse through the levels by walking and flipping gravity. The levels are short and sweet, which keeps the pace of the game flowing swiftly, so as long as you don’t get bogged down in a level for too long it doesn’t get too repetitive. As most of the levels aren’t that challenging, you should be able to work out how to progress fairly quickly and whizz through the levels. The aim is to reach the golden egg at the end of each level to progress to the next puzzle.
The controls couldn’t be simpler, you move the left stick to walk left and right, and press A to flip gravity, so up is then down, down is up, right is left, you get the drift. This mechanic enables you traverse gaps in the platforms by flipping from floor to ceiling and back again, missing traps like lines of metal spikes, and the monsters. To add an extra dimension, or to be more accurate an extra direction, there are yellow switches floating on some levels that will switch gravity through 90 degrees so the left and right walls now become the floor and ceiling. This adds something extra to the puzzles as you try to figure out when is the optimum time to take advantage of the switches. A lot of the time you’ll need to guide your fall accurately to hit them as they will be off to the side of your take off point.
There are 140 levels spilt into 4 themed worlds, but all the levels don’t appear to be unique, as some patterns seemed to repeat later in the game, albeit dressed in a different skin for the next themed world. Each level should take less than a minute, the easiest a mere few seconds, unless you get stymied by the poor collision detection. As with blocky 8-bit graphics back in the day you could move objects to within a pixel and it was easy to see, but the amount of times I tried this with gravity duck and ended up getting killed because I had apparently got too close to a trap or enemy was annoying. You’d think you had the duck in the right spot and far enough away, only to lose out despite the characters not appearing to touch. This certainly takes something away from the smooth movement of your character that is set at the right sensitivity level for good control
The retro style graphics are adequate and functional, if a little uninspiring, with no real charm coming across from any of the characters. Restart times seem unnecessarily slow, just in the fact that you expect them to be instant on such short levels, but you only really notice that when youre stuck on one level and have to restart numerous times. The 8-bit sound is a bit better, with some 80’s inspired electronic tunes that are good enough that they don’t grate after repeated listening.
As anyone that is used to games released by Ratalaika Games, the achievement list is set to very easy, and you only need to play the first 50 levels to gain the full 1000G, and that should be achievable in about an hour. In a budget game that’s a good selling point for those that love to complete a game (or at least give that illusion by getting the full Gamerscore).
Gravity Duck is a good entry level puzzle platformer and ideal for younger players as its not just the concept that’s simple, it doesn’t need a great level of skill for you to breeze through. In a saturated market however, nothing about this game makes it stand out from the pack and I can’t recommend you buy this over other similar games. Even if you look at what’s been put out there by the same publisher. You’d be better off spending your money on the recently released Hoggy 2 which is a very similar game but does everything much better. It’ll appeal to the achievement hunters out there but ultimately you can get more bang for your buck/euro/pound elsewhere.
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Many thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review copy.