Semispheres by developer Vivid Helix is a 2D puzzle game that applies the concept of split-screen to a smart, fun, and relaxing experience. Each level splits your computer screen in half, with one of your “semispheres” on the left side and the other on the right. If you are using keyboard controls, the WASD keys control the left semisphere and the arrow keys control the right semisphere. (You can also play with a controller, which is what the game recommends and what I used. Each joystick controls its respective semisphere with this control scheme.)
Orange Guy and Blue Guy – two semispheres on an eternal quest to reach those swirly, vortex things. But those guards can make things difficult…
The puzzles all have the same objective: move both semispheres to their goal spots. Obviously, it’s not always that simple – there are “guards” that will instantly send a semisphere back to its beginning location if that semisphere enters the guard’s field of view. The game provides you with various tools and abilities to allow you to bypass the guards and reach the goal, such as an echo which will cause any guards within its radius to leave their post and investigate the noise. There are also “portals” that allow the semispheres to interact with each other’s worlds. (Fortunately, there are no rude AI units promising you cake in order to lure you to your death in this game.) As the game progresses, it introduces you to more interesting abilities that require a little more thought when trying to navigate the puzzles
Blue Guy needs to do something to get Orange Guy out of the corner.
I greatly enjoyed the puzzles in the game, even if most of them were pretty easy to figure out. As is the case with any puzzle game, there were a couple of levels that gave me significantly more trouble. However, I never had to cheat and always managed to solve the puzzles myself, so the game never became overly difficult. Even though I got a little frustrated during some of the late-game levels, I knew I could never blame the game for my own ineptitude and poor planning-ahead. In fact, I would have liked to see more puzzles of this challenging difficulty in the game. The vast majority of them took me only about 5-10 minutes (or less) to figure out.
This particular puzzle gave me conniptions. Looking at it now, I don’t even remember how I solved it.
Beyond the puzzles themselves, the game also offers a small story. The story is told in the form of comic strips, each one unlocked after you finish all of the puzzles in a set. Although, the game really doesn’t need a story – the gameplay is clearly the big focus here. I am slightly confused as to why Vivid Helix chose to add this in, as the plot is entirely unrelated to the rest of the game (aside from one small reference to the semispheres shoehorned into one of the strips). The story doesn’t detract from the overall experience, though. You can choose to totally ignore it if you wish.
A tale of a boy and his robot that has absolutely no relation to the semispheres
The game’s minimalist art style and soothing soundtrack also improve the atmosphere of the game. (Or should I say “atmo-semi-sphere?” I shouldn’t.) Overall, I had a great time playing Semispheres. My biggest complaint is that it’s far too short. It only took me a little over 2 hours to finish the game. (Also, when you solve the last puzzle and view the last comic strip, the game annoyingly resets all your progress without asking your permission. I hope you didn’t want to replay any of the puzzles!) Anyway, the short amount of time spent is definitely worth your money, in my opinion. Check this game out if you’re into the puzzle genre. In fact, if you’ve never had any real experience with the genre, this would probably work as a great introduction, as well.
Final Score: 7/10
Here is the Semispheres Trailer:
Semispheres will launch on PC via Steam and for PlayStation 4 on the PlayStation Store tomorrow, February 14, 2017. Controller support includes the option to play with keyboard. Additional platform releases will follow in 2017.