I’ll start off by saying I love puzzle games. I also love what Tiny Build brings to the gaming world. The trailer for Road to Ballhalla made me want to play the game, which you can see below in this hands-on preview.
On the show floor I had a chance to play through a few levels of Road to Ballhalla and was urged to stay and play the final level available in the demo. I had no clue what I was in for… The goal of the game is to maneuver a ball through different levels with the option of going for fast times, collecting things, around the level or both to earn more stars and achieve a better ranking. There is a health meter that allows you to get hit by obstacles such as lasers and color changing tiles. Watching for patterns, being patient, and figuring out when it is ok to take damage was key. While the game was straightforward through the first three levels with visible easy solutions to navigation, suddenly it felt like a switch was flipped adding mechanics that changed directional controls and visual perspective. I admit while I played I most likely died 50 times on this stage, but a couple of screens before the game gave in and told me to do it. I finally held the controller upside down so that I could use the d-pad like it was normal and not have to over think it. The screen went from being top down to an angled area of many narrow pathways without room for error.
No matter how frustrating the game was, I wanted to play more. I want to feel the satisfaction of beating the disorienting levels. It didn’t matter that I had a group of people watching me and I could hear them criticizing my every failed move. If the mechanics continue to emerge in later levels, proper leaderboard support is added, and the color palette stays vibrant and easy to look at there is nothing but upside and massive potential in the works. There is something about this game that game me a strong desire just to know I could beat it, finish it, move on from the booth not wondering “What if?” It’s becoming harder to find games that forgo extended hand holding and allow you to fail, but this is one of those games and all the frustration will definitely be worth the the feeling of triumph when all of you finally get you hands on it.
What is there to expect with this game?
- Rhythm-driven Gameplay: Move with the music and learn trap patterns to overcome even the most difficult hazards, like rotating laser beams and huge antagonistic red glowing balls trying to crush you!
- Dynamic Music and SFX: The dynamic music by award-nominated composer Nicholas Singer is tailored to the rhythm and style of each level, with sound effects to match the level’s music.
- Community Features: Create your own challenges with the level editor or test your skills in those of other players by beating their highscores.
- Secrets and Rewards: Find and solve extra-hard secret areas and be rewarded with awesome bonus contents like new skins, colors and effects for your ball.
- Focus on Diversity: Rather than increasing the game’s length with filler material, each level has its purpose and unique game-play elements to provide a compact and diverse experience.