There has been a growing, promising catalog of indie titles ported to the Nintendo Switch, and Semispheres by Canadian studio Vivid Helix is one classy example of the recent spate of quirky puzzlers that have taken advantage of the console’s uniquely hybrid capabilities.
Marketed as a “meditative parallel puzzle game,” Semispheres throws you right into the experience without any start menus or tutorials after loading by presenting you with two almost indistinguishable layouts with different color schemes, making use of the single-player, split-screen mechanic. Controlling two light orbs, one blue and one orange, simultaneously with separate joysticks, your goal is to reunite the two parallel worlds by guiding each orb to its vortex destination on each side of the screen. In the beginning, the puzzles are incredibly easy, but there will be a continuous introduction of various obstacles to increase the game’s complexity and difficulty. For example, along the way there may be fiery sentries that will zap you if you step in their field of view. As you progress through the 58 levels you will also gain access to certain power-ups that present new mechanics and are necessary for completing your missions. For example, one of these powers allows you to create a portal that will allow one of the bright orbs to interact with the other world. You can then use a noise-making power to distract an enemy in the other world and allow the other orb to sneak past. As you would imagine, you have to really work both the left and right side of your brain to have both bright dots find safe passage and reach their destinations at the same time.
Every time you complete a certain amount of levels you will be treated to a comic strip that gives a snippet of the game’s vague plot about a boy and his robot, motivating you to further crank out more levels to see where it goes. It’s a pretty charming and heartwarming story, although I did feel that it was somewhat sparse in terms of pure content. The game in general however really delivers on its promise of an almost zen-like experience. The warm-colored, almost ethereal artstyle is pleasant on the eyes. The minimalistic, yet colorful animations are wondrous and soothing to look at. The lovely synth-led soundtrack by Sid Barnhoorn, who previously composed music for The Stanley Parable and Antichamber, also adds to the entrancing ambiance.
Semispheres’ transition to the Nintendo Switch is seamless, with the gameplay mechanics suiting the console to a tee and the controls still feeling natural and easy to pick up. With the aid of the Joy-Con controllers, the game can switch to co-op mode easily and thus puzzles can be tackled with a friend. Of course, this takes away from the challenge of micromanagement of solo play, but it still provides an interesting, unique experience altogether.
With a simple premise and control scheme, Semispheres is a game that is very easy to get into. Unfortunately, some of the puzzles definitely can seem repetitive, which is why I can recommend this as something that should be played in short bursts more than anything. Another downside is that the game can be completed very quickly, with some of the puzzles being able to be figured out in a matter of minutes, so it may not be all bang for your buck. Regardless, it is a worthwhile title to have on your Nintendo Switch that you can fiddle around with on your way to work, and such. All in all, Semispheres presents satisfying challenge to both puzzle enthusiasts and newcomers alike with a nice visual aesthetic to boot.
Here is the Semispheres Nintendo Switch Trailer:
Semispheres is available for the Nintendo Swith as well as on PC through Steam and for PlayStation 4 on the PlayStation Store.