Shiny Hands-On Preview: Silicon Life Forms
Shiny is a platformer with rough edges and a lot of heart. Developed by Brazilian studio Garage 227, the small team has been working on this platformer for quite some time, doing contract work for other development studios in order to fully fund the game themselves.
In Shiny players control a small robot named Kramer and must manage its energy. Movement, jumps, and actions all deplete a limited internal battery. Because of this, players will have to watch their depletion and wisely determine how much time to spend wandering the world.
This isn’t an action-adventure, as the team at Garage 227 wanted to take a non-violent approach to gameplay. Instead humans abandoned the robots on this doomed planet and its up to you to resuscitate dead robots to help build a new ship to escape. Reviving your silicon friends also takes up battery life, and it may sometimes take some strategy to make sure you have enough energy to recharge every robot in the level and keep yourself alive.
Spread througout each level are generators that, once restarted, become a checkpoint with limited lives tied to them. These are key to exploration, as you won’t know on the first run through of a level where the next generator is. Do you test your limits and find every robot friend? Or do you press onward and focus on gathering the energy required to power the end-game ship? Clever players will be able to collect everything in a given level, but will also have to contend with the usual platforming obstacles.
Bottomless gaps, trapdoors, encroaching cave-ins, and moving platforms can all easily cause death. This isn’t only due to the inherent difficulty built into them, but also because jumping in Shiny takes a little time to get accustomed with. Kramer isn’t very mobile once in the air, so you will have to time your jump and momentum beforehand.
Certain abilites will also help the player through the challenges, as I was equipped for one level with a cooling system that allowed me to pass through fire, so long as I pulled each trigger in succession afterwards to cool off. Some other abilites include a jetpack, which will rapidly deplete your energy, a shield that protects you from falling rocks, and a radio system for moving certain entryways and opening alternate paths.
As I mentioned before, Shiny still has some very rough edges. None of the cinematics were in the game, though the wonderful soundtrack was included. One part was nigh-impossible due to a low ceiling that kept me from progressing through a gap. Thankfully Garage 227 has been play-testing the game for some time and knows about fixes they need to make. They appear to be highly reactive to feedback, especially when it comes to the challenge of getting the gameplay right.
All Garage 227 has left to do is tune the difficulty and insert missing cutscenes. With a few months before launch, and after seeing the dedicated team behind it, I’m sure they will be able to achieve that goal and get their helpful robo-friend Kramer out to the masses on Xbox One and PC this summer.