Maddening Euphoria is an endless runner platformer with a twist… literally. The goal is to continue running around an ever-changing circle, all the while trying to avoid the wall that is constantly looming behind you. The entire game feels like playing a never ending ball-in-a-maze puzzle.
Maddening Euphoria is a fantastic way to kill some time. The gameplay is as smooth as butter, so you won’t run into any unwarranted deaths and the constant overarching threat of the wall behind you provides an appropriate sense of urgency. The main negative to the gameplay is when bouncing on trampolines, it makes it difficult to see pitfalls and spikes, even though the game tries to take precautions to prevent this.
The game has six different modes, including: Standard, Challenges, Pogo (which has you constantly hopping), Fast Wall (making the wall behind you faster, leaving less room for error), No Backsies (cannot go backwards) and Double Speed. This variety provides great replayability and helps to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting.
To mix up the gameplay even further, Maddening Euphoria contains a Second Win feature, allowing you to run twice as fast for a few seconds if you are close to the wall long enough for a separate circle meter to be filled up. If you break that gap between yourself and the wall, the meter will reset, coming in as a risk-reward feature.
When either successfully filling in the Second Win feature or by lasting for long periods of time, you can collect Euphoria letters. By spelling out the word ‘EUPHORIA’, you will enter a rainbow world where time speeds up and all spikes disappear. Euphoria mode rewards you for your hard effort, and hard effort is absolutely what is required to reach Euphoria.
The Challenges mode adds a fantastic sense of progression that could have quickly made the game grow stale if it wasn’t included. There are 155 challenges to complete, each taking challenges from the different modes present within the game. These bite-sized challenges start off simple, requiring you to last a certain amount of time in different modes or gaining a minimum amount of Euphoria letters. However, they soon get very difficult, with the final challenge requiring you to last for at least one hour without dying.
The general design of the game is what is unique about the budget title, providing fantastic depth of gameplay. The concept is something that takes quite some time to get use to, so there is a very steep learning curve. Yet the more you practice, the better you’ll learn and familiarise yourself with the general flow of the game.
As mentioned earlier, the longterm quality of the game is greatly pulled down with some cheap deaths. Occasionally, I found myself reaching dead ends which made losses inevitable. In addition to this, the trampolines are frustrating to use as you don’t see what you’re about to land on until a split second prior. I died many times landing on a row of spikes that I didn’t see coming until it was too late and I didn’t feel as though it was an error on my end, rather it was simply unavoidable and a cheap death.
As you continue to run around in circles, you’ll encounter various different obstacles in your way: spikes, trampolines, goo to slow you down and pitfalls. These, in addition to the constantly changing shape of the level and the wall behind you, provides an endless challenge that always keeps you on your toes, never becoming predictable.
Graphics / Art Direction
The art direction is bright and colourful, with some psycodelic patterns happening in the background. Whilst it makes the game pop and keeps it looking vibrant, it certainly makes it difficult to look at for extended periods of time. I found my eyes straining after 10-15 minutes of playtime, so I chose the Greyscale theme and found it to be a lot easier on the eyes.
That then brings me to my next point; Maddening Euphoria contains a total of 36 colour themes that are immediately available to you from the get-go. You can choose any theme that you prefer or if you’re not fussed, you can put all 36 themes on shuffle and have your eyes surprised every time.
These themes don’t just act as colour pallets, they also provide poetry each time you die, playing in with the theme that you have chosen. This story feature linked with the colour palettes is just so bizarrely unique that it almost redeems itself from the headaches that each playthrough has given me.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack to Maddening Euphoria takes a dance/techno approach to accompany the psychedelic art style. The fast-paced adrenaline-pumping music keeps the momentum going, which is perfect for any endless runner.
At the beginning of each track, the game highlights the track name and artist, providing credit where credit is due. It’s fantastic to see a collaboration with indie musician artists and game designers as the two most often go hand-in-hand.
Final Score: 60%
Maddening Euphoria provides a whole new meaning to the phrase “running around in circles”. The concept of navigating through a never-ending ball-in-a-maze puzzle is such a unique concept that for just $1USD, it’s a no brainer to download onto your Switch just to experience what innovating level design can offer. Unfortunately, the psychedelic art style makes it difficult to concentrate on the screen for long periods of time, and you may not want to after a few unavoidable cheap deaths.