The platforming genre has brought us some good games in the past, when done right. They can be very challenging and visually pleasing. I recently got my hands on Talent Not Included, and boy was I in for a fun time. Its unique take on the platforming genre felt new and was very enjoyable to play. The game is set in the fantasy land of Notthatmuchfurther, where it tells the story of three monsters who are huge fans of Bloodbaths, Slaughter and above all Shakespeare. They decide to put on a play for their own amusement, so they hire three mediocre actors, Cecile, Bonnie and Gundelf in the hopes to put on a performance of a life time. This review will be covering the Xbox One Version of the game.
The game is made up of three acts that are split into fifteen scenes. So it works out to be 45 scenes all together and by completing all the scenes you are able to unlock the final boss fight. It plays out like a theatrical play with the sound of the audience in the background and the stage. The game has a unique cylinder-based platforming style, which allows the scene to change when the cylinders spins. You get the cylinders to spin by collecting a cog that has green arrows on it. You complete a scene when you have progress through all the different layouts and land on the platform at the end with two flags on it. When you have unlocked the final boss you’re able to pick one of the three playable character to take on the challenge. Each character has fifteen scenes for themselves with their own unique challenges and flare. Cecile is a knight, whose scenes are based in a forest environment. Bonnie is a ninja and her scenes are based in a desert, then finally we have Gundelf who is a mage and all his scenes are based in the tundra.
When you are playing through a scene you get tutorial panels that give you hints and information about how to overcome certain obstacles or to introduce new mechanics, these are very useful and really aid the player. The aim with all the scenes is to try and get the highest score, it’s spilt into three bands these being; standing ovation, good job and complete scene. If you lose all your lives you get booed off and have to start from the beginning. To earn points you have to collect candy, hearts or kill enemies, if you are able to do this without getting hurt you will get a multiplier added to your score. The max multiplier is X5, you will lose your multiplier from taking damage from the environment or damage from enemies. Enemies come in a variety of different forms such as wolves, knights and spiked lizards to name a few. These add extra obstacles to a scene when you are trying to progress.
A scene is split up into different layouts and to progress through the layouts you have to collect Cogs that have arrows inside. Once touched the whole environment changes and you’re welcomed with a new layout to try and traverse your way through. As you progress through the scenes they get hard and more challenging. Putting more objects in your way, such as spinning spikes, spikes and areas of the scenes floor that if you touch you take damage. You work your way through levels by using the jump mechanic which can be used by pressing A or double jumping by pressing A twice. Some parts of the level you can jump through, this can be done by simply jumping but to move down you have to hold down on the left stick and press A. Certain walls can be jumped onto which allows you to wall slide and climb. Every character has two additional moves that they can use, a standard attack that can be used when pressing the X button and a special unique move that only a certain character can use, which is used when pressing the B button. So you might be wondering what the special moves are well I’m going to tell you. Cecile can dash-spin which allows him to attack multiple enemies at once or to get over/through gaps with ease. Bonnie has a shield and a roll. She can roll through spikes without getting hurt and while jumping if you hold B she gets a temporary shield that protects her from enemy attacks and environment damage, Gundelf on the other hand has the ability to Blink from one location to another. He can Blink in almost all direction, it’s handy to get pass enemies or obstacles like a wall of spikes. He also uses a staff that shots magic projectiles as he’s normal attack, these can go in almost all directions. Bonnie uses a dagger and finally Cecile uses a sword.
When playing the scenes after completing four you get a boss fight. In an act you fight the same boss three times, each time you fight them there attack pattern changes. These fights are very engaging and quiet difficult at first but once you find the rhythm and get your head round the pattern they become a it’s a piece of cake. The Acts get harder too, with the amount of life you have being lower, Cecile has five lives, Bonnie has four and Gundelf has three. Which makes the game get progressively harder as you’re trying to worm your way through each scene.
Graphically the game looks amazing with its paper craft-inspired art style and the soundtrack is very catchy. The dialog uses a lot of references to other games and also adds some salty little puns into the mix which makes the story quite fun and enjoyable to progress through. The game also features a Local co-op mode that allows for you to go head-to-head with you friends.
Positives & Negatives
- Enjoyable platforming experience
- Different playstyle for each character
- Fun sense of humour and soundtrack
- Game felt to short
- Sometimes level change don’t give you the chance to adapt (can lead to losing streak and health)
Talent Not Included was enjoyable and easy to pick up from the get go. It’s a really good game and caters for hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike. You can easily jump in and out of this game and pick up from where you left off. It had its challenging moments that urged me to keep wanting to complete the scenes. Though sadly it felt to short as I was able to sit down and complete the game in one sitting. Though if you want to get standing ovations on all the scenes this game could have some replay value. The cylinder-based platforming is different from what I have seen from other platforming games in the past and it was a very nice change. The art style really suited the game and the humour used got me chuckling to myself a few times. I’m happy to give Talent Not Included a score of 8/10.