Supraland is retro in all the right ways

The premise barely matters. You’re a red dude, dropped into a world of other red dudes. Your apparent enemy is the blue dudes. There’s some politics here; let’s ignore it. You smash up skeletons with a sword, you jump around. You solve puzzles. It’s a game, and very proud of that fact.

Supraland is by David Münnich, creator of the notorious internet riddle Notpron. And it kind of scratches the same itch, despite being many, many times less difficult. Have you played Notpron? It’s a browser game in which you simply have to figure out how to get to the next page. It starts off with you simply clicking a door, then you start having to change the URL manually. Then the morse code comes in. Then you’ll need to start using external software and editing the source code. Then it gets difficult. I was once up until 4am playing it with a friend, utterly compelled to move forward, sharing our mutual revelations as we slowly dug our way into this fascinating, enigmatic, slightly sinister experience. Supraland isn’t sinister, but everything else I said certainly applies.

It’s a Metroidvania. Sort of. In 3D! It’s a first-person Metroidvania platformer, I guess? You move through a large, intricately-designed space, exploring every nook and cranny looking for upgrades and Mario-esque coins, with which you buy more upgrades. Basic sorts of thing, like additional health, or increased health regeneration, or a double jump. Triple jump. Quadruple jump, you get it. But the drive to push through to the next bit is strong, and very addicting; every single time I picked the game up, it never quite felt like the right time to shut it off. After all, surely I’d soon be able to reach that next area…?

The puzzles are very organic but at the same time, very much gamey. Early in the game, you get access to a Force Cube, which is… well… a cube you can create at any time, use as a platform, or a counterweight, or whatever else you might use a cube for. If you were an unoriginal pillock, you could describe it as a Companion Cube har har har Portal reference us gamers. But Supraland doesn’t have the cynicism of Portal. It’s an earnest, good-hearted thing from beginning to end, aimed at people who enjoying solving puzzles and playing games for the sake of playing games. Looking for a deep narrative or meaning is a bit of a waste of time, though you can easily read into the blue/red struggle if you want. This is just a thoroughly refreshing game in terms of its accessibility, though it doesn’t compromise on its environmental puzzles, tricky first-person platforming (enormously fun!) and rewarding exploration. If you can think of a way to get somewhere, the developer has too, and will most likely reward you with something worthwhile.

It’s that lovely feeling a game being so thoroughly, lovingly crafted that you’re never at a loss for what to do next despite a distinct lack of hand-holding. I’d recommend Supraland to anyone, and it’s one of the best games of the generation as far as I’m concerned. It gives me the warm, fuzzy feeling of retro games, and I value that above almost anything nowadays. So hooray for Supraland.

A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher.

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