Jump between alternate realities to restore balance to a divided planet inhabited by sorcerers as Soli, the unexpected hero of Unbound: Worlds Apart. This puzzle-platformer attempts to make a respectable attempt at the Metroidvania genre but ultimately, and unfortunately, fails to stand out amongst the crowd.
Unbound: Worlds Apart is a decent example of the modern Metroidvania: great platforming with a strangely vague story and an addicting gimmick. The premise of Unbound is fairly unique; using portals, you can open windows to what appears to be an alternate dimension in order to disable enemies, reveal platforms and even reverse gravity! This allows for a vast variety of puzzles that drive you to progress through a magical wasteland. The platforming is demanding but the controls are tight enough to make the experience very enjoyable. This isn’t a game that ever feels unfair due to loose controls. Unbound feels like an accessible combination of Hollow Knight and Celeste.
The aesthetics of this game are simple and lovely. The art style is vibrant and the character models are surprisingly varied. When you accompany that with the whimsical music and diverse environments, it all adds up to something special.
- Inventive puzzles
- Interesting premise
- Aesthetically pleasing
There are a couple of pretty glaring flaws with Unbound: Worlds Apart, with the most annoying being the performance issues. When a game demands precise platforming and when many of the puzzles are time sensitive, any lag or frame-rate issues will instantly ruin the experience. It wasn’t really noticeable until later in the game, which made the shift in quality even more obvious. The boss battles are especially bad because you can really tell the Switch is struggling to keep up with the action and it pulls you right out of the experience.
This game is also incredibly linear. That may not sound like an issue on its own but there’s no real motivation to explore the map because all of your objectives are precisely plotted and the only hidden collectibles are NPCs that have no impact on gameplay. Imagine if the Missile Expansions in a Metroid game didn’t actually expand your inventory and only blurted a platitude at you instead. Unbound is clearly influenced by the giants of the genre but lacks the wherewithal to use that influence effectively.
The single-hit-death mechanic is fine most of the time since combat is a small part of the main game but it makes the boss battles insufferable, especially when paired with the aforementioned performance issues. Luckily, these are few and far between because they’re the worst part of the game.
- Performance problems
- No incentive to explore
- Frustrating boss battles
Final Score: 6/10
Unbound: Worlds Apart is ambitious but highly derivative. This is a real shame because it could’ve been great with a few tweaks. The enjoyable puzzle/platform combo is an interesting twist on the genre that it desperately wants to emulate but in most other regards, it simply misses the mark. Parts of the controls feel like they’ve been lifted right out of Hollow Knight so they’re objectively functional and feel good, but it also feels cheap overall. This game stands on the shoulders of giants so it’s inevitably fun but it would’ve been so much more enjoyable if there were less half-hearted indie-platformer tidbits (the useless collectibles and plagiarised mechanics) and more decisive originality. This game is hard for me to recommend because if you’re a big fan of Metroidvanias, you’ll really notice all of these problems, but if you’re new to the genre and would probably genuinely enjoy it, there are still much better games in a similar price range. That being said, it’s heartwarming that in the wake of next gen technological advances and hyper-realistic graphics that there’s still a market for independent 2D games, even though the market for them is starting to become saturated, and I really hope this game gets a sequel to expand on what they got right but cut out the fluff.
Thank you for checking out our Unbound: Worlds Apart Switch review, thank you to Alien Pixel Studios for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: