Landflix Odyssey looks to evoke Netflix’s greatest series in the form of classic platforming action. Will it get six seasons and a movie, or get cancelled in the death slot?
In medieval times, spices were used to mask the poor taste of spoiled meat, thereby acting as a way of ensuring the food was still palatable, or, worse, to mask poison in the case of regicide. It serves a diner well to be wary about spices, and a gamer doubly so to question interesting framing devices. The latest and most interesting concept for an upcoming title comes to us in the form of Landflix Odyssey, a 2D platformer that will see you playing through lawyer-friendly versions of Netflix’s most famous shows.
I was sceptical at the outset, admittedly. The framing device is sub-zero cool as a concept, especially considering the pre-eminence of movie-quality, boxset shows in the modern age. Who doesn’t love either Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, or Game of Thrones? That’s the exciting part of this title. The fear in my mind was that it would have betrayed a dime-a-dozen 2D platformer, which we aren’t experiencing scarcity in. With trepidation, like a Friends fan trying something new for once, I booted up the preview demo.
The Fantastico team can’t be faulted for presentation, especially on what is ostensibly a shoestring budget and a small team. It will use 16-bit pixel art which looks gorgeous, but debatably enhances itself when used on certain worlds. The demo allows you to play through “Peculiar Stuff” and “Elder Thrones”, and it’s the Stranger Things expy which comes out for the better due to the moody darkness necessary for recreating the Upside Down. Not to say that the Game of Thrones world looks bad (it’s actually quite resplendent in its snowy hues) but their art style will definitely better fit darker and grimier worlds, which is, luckily, Netflix’ oeuvre, so the team absolutely creates excitement for what is to come.
The game itself looks to predicate itself on nostalgia, both directly and in a roundabout manner. It evokes classic platformers and feels like Metroidvania, but the game is structured linearly in the tradition of Mario, which will accommodate a satisfying sense of progression as you progress through the little stories told based on the series. This nostalgic aspect makes absolute sense, it is teeth-grindingly brilliant, and its little surprise that the team allowed us to play the Stranger Things level, when that show runs on nostalgia like a car runs on petrol. This game is similarly nostalgic as it not only relives the games we loved as children, but also the media we loved as adults which thrives on reminding us what we loved as children. It’s a nostalgia ouroboros and you’ll be happy to get eaten up by it on release day.
But getting down to the nuts and bolts of Landflix and chill. How will it play? This game will use a controller, and it’s all the better for it, as it handles competently, but can be a little slippery in more frenetic moments of platform navigation. Half the time, players will accept mistakes as their own, but on tighter sections, players will want controls to be that little bit more precise, especially in jumping from floating or oscillating platforms, which right now feels more like a leap of faith as your controller feels it doesn’t quite obey. That aside, even independent of the Netflix-heavy winks and nods, it’s so far a fun and engaging platformer, which stays truly fresh due to the changes in weapons and enemies appropriate to each world. As it stands, the gameplay is more than adequate, feeling like it is 90% ready, so hopefully the very minor creases will be ironed out by the time Landflix Odyssey drops.
While not the most technically stunning demo you will ever play, and admittedly running on a heavy dose of nostalgia, Landflix Odyssey resembles a blue-chip TV series with a boatload of potential, and its familiar platforming coupled with its fun and appealing wrappings and trappings could see this game as a lowkey winner for 2018.