Alteric is a puzzle-platformer in which the player takes control of a white square that navigates through puzzle-platform levels. This square is the soul of someone who has just passed away and is now trapped between two worlds. Using your newfound powers, players will get to swap between dimensions to alter the world around you as they must traverse through 30 unique levels dodging sawblades, projectiles, and lasers to escape certain death. It was previously released on PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC via Steam but is now making its way to the Xbox One with X Enhancement so here’s to checking if the game competes with the likes of other similar titles like Thomas Was Alone.
Switching worlds mechanic – Alteric has an interesting mechanic which is used to diversify the game-play. The player can switch dimensions, in doing so the environment changes, which makes certain objects fade out of existence and new ones appear to create a different path for the player to explore. This mechanic truly shines in latter levels as the player must combine the double jump and switching dimensions together to avoid death. There is one problem associated with this mechanic, however, as objects will appear/disappear by switching dimensions and aren’t highlighted or indicated in any way; this, as a result, makes it highly likely for the player to switch dimension only for the platform they’re standing on to disappear causing them to plunge to their death. This is also observed with hazards like spinning sawblades. It can cause the player to jump up to quickly switch dimensions just to see the next platform and switch back just to land on something which can be aggravating.
Too short – One of the major problems that Alteric has is its incredibly short length as it boasts a simple sample of 30 levels in total. When most of these levels can be completed in minutes, and factoring in that approximately seven or so levels are designated tutorial levels, there’s only around 23 levels that truly offer content. When you further include that three of the levels remaining are boss levels, you are left with 20 pure platforming levels which is unsatisfactory for a full game. While some of the latter levels in chapter 3 (levels 21-30) are slightly longer and more challenging, there’s no excuse for the low amount of levels provided, especially considering Alteric is dubbed as “Thomas Was Alone meets Dark Souls”, which is ironic since the former boasted 120 levels which is four times the amount Alteric covers.
Bosses are glitchy – There are 3 bosses present in Alteric and each of them is found on the last level of their respective chapter (Level 10, 20, and 30). The poor quality displayed by Alteric is easily observed during these boss fights. While the first boss is standard, in which you must hit certain locations of the boss while avoiding his attacks, the second and third bosses have large bugs. The principle for these bosses are the same, hit the designated locations on the boss and the level is complete. The main problem is that, during the first and third boss, dying resets the bosses’ vulnerable areas; this means that even if you hit them, you would have to re-hit them, this is the penalty for dying. The second boss’ vulnerable spots do not respawn which contradicts the rule previously used by all other bosses in the game.
All Bosses do not reset after the player has died, what this means is that the player could die to a projectile, respawn, and then immediately die again as the projectiles and boss do no reset (yet the vulnerable spots do refresh and respawn). A final glitch which forces the player to reset the game is observed during the final boss fight. The final boss has four vulnerable spots, and killing the boss requires the player to hit all four. The boss also has four spinning blades which scatter periodically to try and kill the player with rotating lasers. The problem with this is that if the player kills the boss as the spinning blades are scattered, the boss will die, but the game will be soft-locked, and the player must restart the fight and re-do the battle to progress. To successfully complete the fight, the player must defeat the boss while the spinning blades are circling the boss. The fact that there is a great disparity between whether or not the game will soft-lock depending on the position of the spinning blades show the low quality that has gone into testing Alteric. The average player is more than likely to kill the boss when the spinning blades are scattered – as it provides a clear shot at the boss’s vulnerable areas. Therefore this glitch should have been found and fixed during play testing, and it’s unacceptable to currently be in the game.
Checkpoints – Alteric has very limited mechanics, the player can only interact with a few objects in the environment. One of them is a beam of light which acts as a checkpoint. Checkpoints are introduced early in the game as part of the “tutorial levels” but the main problem is the severe lack of them. The checkpoint is introduced initially on a level which requires the player to complete it without dying for an achievement, which invalidates the need for a checkpoint. After this initial exposure to the checkpoint, only a small handful of levels contain them, with most them appearing in chapter 3. Only around five or six levels contain checkpoints including the tutorial level. This is strange and a missed opportunity, as many earlier levels can be long and monotonous requiring the player to repeat many jumps only for there to not be a checkpoint, yet in the latter levels checkpoints are given out haphazardly. There is absolutely no reason to include a checkpoint system if 90% of the game is void of them.
Clones – Clones is an ability taught to the player at the end of the game, the player has the ability to create a clone of themselves which can then be used as an additional platform or used to shield the player from enemy lasers. The main problem associated with the clones is that it’s: incredibly finicky to use as oftentimes the player will need to use one mid-air, if the player makes a clone as they are descending the clone is placed above them, and if the player uses their double jump while doing the previous point they will then hit the underside of the clone resulting in death. The clone mechanic is only used in a few levels in the final chapter and, unfortunately, doesn’t fit well with the rest of the game. Notwithstanding the fact that it does add something new to the game, it feels as if it was just added to pad the game and feels unpolished (like most aspects in Alteric). This mechanic, if added earlier and functioned properly, would definitely have been more welcome than it is in its current state.
Alteric is, at its core, a platformer which tries to captivate players with its unique world-switching mechanic that changes the environment and varied puzzles. Unfortunately, Alteric fails in many avenues from its unpolished mechanics (which many are thrown in at the end), glitchy boss fights, and incredibly short length that causes it to feel as if there is a lot to be left desired. While it’s currently on pre-order for $4.99 on the market it’s not worth even that to try out as it doesn’t justify the extremely short length of it. It’s best to wait until this (possibly) ends up as a Games with Gold free title on Xbox.
Alteric was developed and published by Sometimes You. It was released for Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and PC on March 30th, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.