A lot of platformer games lately have come from independent developers. Taking the examples of Fez or Limbo, these have gone on to be real gems of the genre, and are regarded as highly as Bioshock or Half-Life one might say. Super Meat Boy was also one of these great platforming games and was also developed by an indie studio quite a while back. Now, Green Lava studios are trying to replicate the success of Team Meat’s incredibly difficult game by releasing a similar game, called Fenix Rage.
Fenix Rage is the story of this little hedgehog-like creature and his mission to get back at Oktarus, who one fine day decides to destroy Fenix’s village. It is thus Fenix’s quest to get revenge and thus must undergo all these trials which are in the way. The game is fairly easy to learn, consisting of jumps and dashes and practically nothing else. The key mechanic to the game is that these jump and dash commands are unlimited and may thus be spammed to one’s liking. This is done to make it possible to beat the challenges because it is insanely difficult to have these abilities limited considering the absurdity of some puzzles. In later levels one needs to be proficient in combining both abilities, either by jump cancelling a dash or dash cancelling a jump. It sounds difficult and it is a little, but once you get the hang of things you will be pulling out cancelling in no time at all. The game can be played both on keyboard and on a controller, though the controller is recommended.
The game features a multitude of levels spread through 9 different worlds, all vividly coloured and full of life. Each level also contains a cookie, which are the game’s collectible. Unlike other puzzle games, the cookie is not essential for progression but picking it up is a harder challenge for the player. Enemy life that is, enemies which upon touching them will take you back to the starting point, no matter how much progress you actually did in the level. If one had already picked up the cookie before dying, it will be returned to its original place so you still have to go pick it up again before trying to get to the blue box which signals the end of the level. There are also occasional boss fights which alter the pattern of how one beats the level and require more brain power to sort out what needs to be done. It may take a while until one figures out what must be done, but after managing to get rid of the boss, you will feel proud. The game also starts to introduce new mechanics as you make progress. For example, Fenix may find some ice cubes blocking the path, and thus he needs the power of fire to be able to destroy them. Sliding across blocks which seem to be made of lava or other combustible material, Fenix catches fire for a few seconds, and dashing through these blocks while ablaze will destroy them.
What is probably the coolest feature of the game is its cookie section. Gathering all the cookies from one world will give you a cookie for the cookie section, and upon entering it will give you a real life cookie recipe which one can try straight away. It is an innovative and delicious addition to the game, a feature which one cannot do anything but like. The recipes are also very easy and well explained, so they can be done in little time with practical ingredients.
Graphically, the game resembles a little 8-bit graphics but its textures are much more detailed and clearer. The art style is a perfect fit for the game, also due to its similarity with Super Meat Boy, which also used similar 8-bit ish level design. Each level features a lot of colour, giving the game more personality than it already has. A specific colour is dominant in each level, emphasising the separation of each world from the next. As what regards audio, the game has a cute soundtrack which accompanies the game well. Sound effects are omnipresent one can say, since there are different effects upon jumping dashing and respawning.
What I did not like about the game was that sometimes it was just a matter of luck not of skill and timing which decided whether I pass the level or not. It was not only once that, bored and frustrated of failing a level over some fifty times, random paths looking for luck were tried. If a path goes really close to victory then these paths may be elaborated into to create a better chance, but if nothing the random dashing and jumping may have to continue. Another negative aspect of Fenix Rage is the fact that sometimes there is the feeling that the laser, wall or whatever killed you did not in fact touch you. There may have been only 1 millimetre of a distance in between, but in games of this type surviving is the only thing that counts, and thus making Fenix’ hit radius larger than it should be is only making things much more difficult. In fact in some levels the game seems to want you to fail on purpose, and one will have to study these levels quite well to figure out what the solution is. In itself, studying a level is one of the best features of the game.
Fenix Rage is a cute platformer which takes inspiration from a very successful game before it. Whoever played Super Meat Boy and loved it, like me, will definitely have a blast with Fenix Rage. Others are obviously welcome to come in and try it, especially with the availability of a free demo to savour a bit what the game is, and see if it appeals to their tastes. Fenix is surely filled with rage, as the title rightly says, but I have got a feeling he isn’t going to be the only one filled with rage by the time we are finished with him, is he?
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.