LET’S NOT DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN
Way too often, at the end of a console’s life cycle, a few smaller indie titles will pass along with little mention or fanfare. Some of these games are true diamonds in the rough, largely unnoticed by the masses flocking to the newer and shinier consoles. Constant C, one of the latest PlayStation 3 releases, is not one of these games.
Very few people, either journalist or player, had heard mention of this physic-based platform-puzzler, but it was first released on Steam and Xbox 360 in early March. Facing an onslaught of mixed reviews, the Chinese development studio International Game Systems and 5pb./MAGES decided to bring their new title to PlayStation 3.
The game could be described as a mix between Toki Tori and Portal. You control a “Rescue Robot” on a deserted space ship, plagued with obstacles and platforms. More interestingly, time is at a complete standstill with objects floating mid-air. You are tasked by a matronly (and often poorly translated) super-computer to go through the ship, fix whatever halted time, and find out the origin of the problem along with the reason behind your creation.
Paired with this fairly interesting story, Constant C gives you some very interesting mechanics very early on: 1) the ability to control time with a force field surrounding you and 2) the ability to control the flow of gravity. The former will give you the ability to cause movement in otherwise static objects, the latter will shift every stage on its head (literally).
So far so good, right? On paper, this sounds like a great title. However, playing the game for a mere couple of minutes will expose its flaws.
First, while I may be spoiled with recent PlayStation 4 loading times, Constant C will spend 20 seconds loading between each level. I’m not exactly sure what is too difficult to process in a 2D, hand-drawn, platforming game with relatively small stages, but the load times considerably kill the flow of the title. The puzzles will often result in constant deaths, sometimes seconds apart, and 20 second load times really stack up.
Speaking of deaths, it is way too easy to die in this game. Sure, maybe this is to reinforce the difficulty of the puzzles, but with the 20 second load it seems largely unnecessary. What makes a game addictive is the ability to instantly start back up — just look at Hotline Miami or Resogun for a perfect example. Instead, players are greeted with clearly arbitrary deaths (e.g. a five foot drop will make you explode into a million pieces).
Third, the puzzles themselves are truly hit or miss. Puzzle games hold a unique ability to give a thrill to players by allowing them to put together a puzzle already in their hand — the game should help to provide an “Aha!” moment that will make the player feel like they solved something. While I was able to get this from a lot of Constant C’s puzzles, way too often I felt I actually got through the level based on luck or an unintended answer. In short, the game never makes you feel smart, just a confusing mix of lucky and frustrated.
Last but not least, the story leaves a lot to be desired. The whole concept of humanity stopping time and a robot coming to their rescue is actually a great concept, but the delivery is awful. The game tries to introduce the story through “cutely” animated 2D cutscenes (found by picking up secrets along the way), however they are a chore to sit through. The written dialogue is dry, cliche, and uninteresting, making the story seem way more boring than it actually is. Less than a third of the way through the game, I was questioning whether to give up hunting for secrets just so I wouldn’t have to watch the cutscenes.
For gamers on the budget, Constant C may be a more palatable option. The game is only $9.99 on PSN and offers over 100 levels. However, I’d say less than half of them are actually worth playing.
The Verdict: 4.0 out of 10
If you like mind warping obstacles with some of the most interesting tools in puzzle games to date, Constant C is your game. However, if you are looking for a game that runs well, has (at least) a passable story, offers fair puzzles, or won’t invoke a controller-throwing rage, look elsewhere. The game is by all means playable and has its bright moments, but would only be enjoyable to the more diabolically-minded puzzle fans.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Lou Contaldi is MONG’s Nintendo Specialist and Senior Editor. In his off time, he enjoys being aggressively mediocre at Hearthstone. You can follow his incoherent ramblings at Twitter.
This review is based on a review copy game that was provided by the developers. The reviewer has played 6 hours on over 70 puzzles, cursing his mouth off.