Crashland on an unknown planet, where you control sheep, a strange character who looks a lot like an armless rat. It is a Metroidvania platform game where you can collect eggs which give you the power to take control of the bodies of other creatures for a short period of time. Like the others of the genre, you will defeat bosses to earn these eggs. Areas that you could not access before become available. In fact, you have nothing to fight. These are areas and avoid traps. Along the way, you’ll have collectable feathers that you’ll need to collect to complete the game. It’s simple in design and built with the speedrunner in mind. But if you don’t like to rush, take your time and enjoy it at your own pace.
Here is what I liked:
Body loan – The main featured experience is swapping another animal for a while. This allows you to dig in the dirt, fly and walk on walls. These are the coolest ones worth mentioning. I like this idea. Not that it’s new or revolutionary, but it takes a very simple game and spices it up. Yet it was kept simple. You interact with these animals for brief moments, forcing you to time things almost perfectly. You can’t use them besides getting to where you need to go. This makes the trips a little more interesting. While I won’t say that the animals you are going to control are awesome, they quite match how the world looks. I enjoyed using the skeleton worm creature. Flying through the air from the ground to another piece of land was the best time I had during my time in this strange world.
Save me! – There’s nothing worse than dying and having to start all over again. Don’t worry though, there are tons of save points you can refresh your health on and lock in your progress. There are quite a few of them and yet it is still not too easy of a game. Even in easy mode. It also locks in any feathers you got, so you’ll have to remember to visit these points often or deal with the pain of re-making an area for the feather (which can be tricky at times).
Give me your egg – Fighting nothing makes boss fights even more special. Here you are not “attacking” them, but allowing them to destroy themselves. A lot of it is platforming, which is a breath of fresh air compared to normal gameplay. I can’t think of a boss I didn’t like approaching. My favorite boss was just jumping on the platforms while the spiked enemies were raining down on me. You had to avoid them by jumping onto platforms that slowly lowered due to your weight. When you conquer the boss, you get a new creature to own. There is a real sense of danger without being too difficult. Again, I played in easy mode!
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Which B to jump – When it comes to a platform game, one of the most important things is how the character controls and feels while doing it. There are times in sheep where it shines, getting the right momentum to propel you to the distant ledge is satisfying. These moments are quite rare. Using the B button to jump is tricky, especially when performing a double jump. If you hit a wall you start to slide down and have to time things very well to get higher because the jump isn’t very high and your double jump doesn’t reset when you hit a wall . That’s a lot of mistakes that end up hurting or killing themselves in the environment. I’m all for tough rigs, but not when I feel like it’s because of horrible controls.
I do not want – Going back without enemies is quite boring. Especially if you are on the wrong track. Many of the sections look like a maze even with the map. So going for a feather you missed deep in an area just doesn’t seem worth it. But you need it to complete the game. Conclusion? I don’t want to end the game. After collecting all but one of the eggs, I found myself in a forest area where the only fast travel point was really hard to hit. I wanted this feather, so I walked through a wall and realized I couldn’t just go back, I had to start all over to get to this. The original way I came didn’t click for me, maybe you couldn’t go back? I’m not quite sure all I know is I felt stuck. It was so much effort just to get out of an area that I had already finished. Maybe I’ll go back and try it again, but knowing that the feathers I missed would be a trip to get, I feel like I just prefer to just spend the experience.
One of my favorite genres, Metroidvanias, has a sense of progression. Defeat the bosses to get special abilities that allow you to pass through areas that you could not access before. It gives you a curiosity about what is on that path. In sheep, I always knew what these paths would have. Either a feather or a new area to find a boss and get more feathers. It was too much rinse and repeat for me. Not being able to fight anything resulted in a boring flashback. Fast travel is awful making it almost easier to just walk to the desired designation as some of the travel points were in dark areas. I just couldn’t find any “wow” moments. It’s a pretty bland experience that has had a few creative platform puzzles; but with the controls not being too precise, it felt too much of a chore.
Goal: Limited call
sheep was published by Top Hat Studios, Inc. and developed by Kyle Thompson for Xbox One. It was released on October 20, 2021 for $ 10.99. A copy has been provided for review.