The release of Portal and Portal 2 have left a cake-sized hole in our hearts as we set out to find something similar. Atomic Breath’s Meanders might not have a Portal gun, but it does have the puzzle platforming action so rarely seen in the industry today. Can it hold a candle to Valve’s classic, or this game just a lie?
The ultimate goal of Meanders is a simple one – get to the exit of each level. However, this is easier said than done. A number of barriers and obstacles stand between here and there, and it is up to the player to find a way to get through. Some solutions are simple enough – put a ball into a target, step on the proper platform, or shoot a ball at a spiky platform. However, things quickly get more complex, with multi-tiered levels, transportation portals, cannons, slides, and trick shots galore. Square cubes also serve as keys in certain points, and must be transported around to the proper area. This is one game where simply knowing the solution isn’t enough – it requires a decent amount of finesse as well. However, once the solution is known, players can breeze through even the toughest of levels in just a couple of minutes.
Along with a double jump, there are a number of hazards that change the way you play. Bouncy pads will make players fly in the air, while speed strips will fling you forward or vertical. As a result, this first-person platformer can feel quite fast at times. Though a controller is supported, a keyboard and mouse support is highly recommended for accuracy. It never gets overly frustrating, and though solutions can be somewhat obtuse at times, finally solving a puzzle is a satisfying feeling.
The presentation found in Meanders is a pretty basic one. An assistant can be friendly or snippy (depending on what you’d like to see), but most of the game will have you hopping around to the next puzzle. It can feel kind of spartan at times, and though the water and shiny aesthetics are nice, it does not leave a lasting impression.
Those who finish the game can play with a number of different variables with the game, each named after different games and anime series. The “No Meanders Sky” setting (given at the outset) gives players a jetpack, while the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure-inspired “Za Warudo” allows players to stop time. It’s fun to play around with these settings, but this is one game that does not have tremendous replay value.
Meanders doesn’t quite live up to Portal’s puzzle platforming lineage, but it still provides a solid experience for those looking for it. It’s obstacles and challenges will keep fans busy for a few hours, but don’t be surprised if it’s over before you know it.