Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
November 21, 2023
Worldless unfolds in a realm where the rules of existence are still undefined. In this mysterious setting, players start on a journey through a shapeless world consisting of two realms. One realm is populated by entities shaping their development and understanding, while the other signifies the aspirational destination they seek. This narrative propels players into a conflict against opposing forces, engaging in a profound battle for superiority.
Worldless is a 2D platformer with a minimal, breathtaking, and cosmic aesthetic combined with turn-based combat. Essentially, it’s an adventure where you explore a serene and expansive space filled with platforms, silent fields, and mysterious plants. As you wander at your own pace, you’ll find value in understanding the game’s physics by taking your time with each jump and navigating different elevations. Embrace the fun of exploration, simply zooming around in Worldless can create huge enjoyment.
In Worldless, the quiet hills and rocks against the glowing and breathing flora create a visually stunning scene, reminiscent of games like Journey due to their similar zen vibes.
The game’s turn-based battles are one of its main elements. Each turn allows you a set time to unleash a combination of attacks before transitioning to a defensive stance. There are two attack options—melee and magic—and two defence options. Your choices depend on evaluating the type of attack from enemies and identifying weaknesses to make your turn as effective as possible. For instance, if an enemy uses both physical and magic attacks and is immune to magic, you need to attack only with melee weapons and choose the appropriate defence option based on the signs shown before attacks.
The inventive fusion of turn-based combat and platformer in Worldless doesn’t reduce the challenges typically associated with platformers. In fact, as the game progresses, the combats become notably more difficult, especially in the later stages. I’m not a particularly skilled player, nor am I a hardcore platformer enthusiast, making the combat in Worldless far from easy. It requires concentration, quick reaction speed, and even risk management skills to defeat the various enemies the game throws at you.
Despite the difficulty, I find myself enjoying most of the combat in Worldless, especially during my numerous attempts to beat a challenging mini-boss. Thankfully, Worldless doesn’t send you back to the last checkpoint when defeated; instead, it only throws you out of the aggro radius. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. But the sheer joy felt after finally beating an enemy with a perfect block or becoming more proficient at navigating between platforms outweighs the frustration.
If you fail several times in defeating an enemy, no worries! It’s an open world, and all you need to do is wander around and gather some level-up materials. Returning with a solid defence and additional combat skills can make all the difference. Re-challenging difficult enemies and zooming around the map might seem repetitive and boring in other circumstances, but not in Worldless. The beautiful, wabi-sabi-styled game scenes, along with the simple yet solemn soundtracks, ensure an immersive gaming experience.
“The beautiful, wabi-sabi-styled game scenes, along with the simple yet solemn soundtracks, ensure an immersive gaming experience.”
Speaking of soundtracks, Worldless’ music works like magic. Not a single word is needed, the ethereal delivery of a simple piano melody, combined with the graceful sounds made by the alien plants as you walk past, create a vivid picture of the beauty and loneliness of this world. Every sound, whether from combat or environmental interaction, seamlessly blends with the background soundtrack, creating a harmonious experience where everything feels connected.
The beauty of Worldless extends to its UI design. Worldless boasts one of the most aesthetically consistent UI designs of games released in 2023. Aside from the main menu, players can access most UI options while in the game. The skill tree and world maps are all carefully designed to match the overall atmosphere of the game, avoiding abrupt interruptions to the immersive experience. Opening the skill tree, as an example, will see the abstract dots and lines of your character reconstruct and shift into the tree itself. The presentation is clean, efficient, and, most importantly, consistent with the overall artistic style of the game. The minimalist zen-like vibes of this game are not limited to the art and combat but are well integrated into other aspects too.
Worldless does lack more detailed and clear gameplay guidance. The map UI was especially a bit challenging for me when I first started. As someone relatively new to platformers, it took me a while to understand how the map in this game works. However, I believe there are valid reasons for the simplified in-game tutorial and guidance. One obvious reason is the minimalist nature of Worldless’ art style and UI design, requiring a sacrifice of textual content to achieve the harmony of a consistent gaming experience.
While combining turn-based combat and platformer elements is a promising idea, a sudden entry into combat mode where my character is forced to slow down feels a bit abrupt to the overall gameplay experience. It just felt a little less exciting, which I believe might be crucial to Worldless’ replayability.
However, the above nitpicks don’t stop Worldless from being an exciting release. A good game is defined by many things, often including a well-structured and delivered story, incredible world-building, and memorable characters. The notion of a good video game is also simple: a remarkable and unique experience, something that Worldless undoubtedly offers to players.
- A new approach to platformer
- Great aesthetic consistency in visual design and UI
- Lovingly implemented sound design
- Fun and challenging combat
- Lack of detailed guidance
- The transition between platformer and turn-based combat can be jarring
Worldless is a captivating 2D platformer with a cosmic aesthetic and seamlessly integrated turn-based battles. Traverse spaces, confront challenging combat, and navigate platforms, all while embracing the joy of exploration. The game’s inbuilt difficulty helps create huge satisfaction once you master the combat and the minimalist design brings a harmonious gaming experience, even if it’s to the sacrifice of detailed guidance. The game won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though, at its core, Worldless still delivers a thoughtful, consistent, immersive, and enjoyable experience.