Does Isopark Make The Isometric View And Platforming Work Together?

Isopark

Seems like we’ll be finding more and more small games of quality after the 3000 or so made in just 48 hours for Global Game Jam last weekend, as is proven by the discovery of Isopark – a soothing, yet also slightly frustrating isometric platformer from Sebastien Janisz and Liana Sposto under the Ultimate Walrus banner.

No surprises as to what caught my attention here! Just look at those pixels and the colors of Isopark – somehow, this picture of serene and natural beauty was conjured up in just 48 hours, and that just seems so impressive to me. Sure, the pillars aren’t the prettiest thing in the world, but the greenery in the game is quite appealing. Funny, really, because the game’s difficulty at times counteracts this effort to calm you and relax you in the its plush pixels. An isometric platformer? There’s not too many of those, and there’s probably a reason why.


“Isopark is a peaceful isometric platformer in which the player’s health and stamina are key.”


The environment is there to be transversed and not to be looked at. That didn’t stop me having a good ole look around, though, enjoying what I could of each tile. The problem at this point was that I could see some spinning icons and a number of transparent stars, but had no idea what they were doing or what I supposed to do to attain them. The spinning icon with the “C” at its middle seemed to trigger something when passing through it, but it took me a while to realize what my task was. I probably should have read the game’s description on the website before jumping in, but I totally blame the game’s presentation as it acted as a distraction I was all too eager to purse.

Jungle Gym

Isopark

Eventually, I did manage to figure things out, and I may have even started to enjoy it a little. The idea is simple: you trigger a sequence to start by going through the spinning icons to be issued a set of parameters to work with, your challenge. Your goal is the star that has now been filled with a shiny yellow color. The risk is provided by the brambles and the water in between you and said star, for they shall deplete your hearts upon contact. You also have to attempt to manage how many jumps it takes to get to the start too, as the lightning bolts show you how many you’re allowed for this challenge, with depletion of either hearts of bolts meaning a failure. In this way it becomes a puzzle game of sorts at times, as you figure out the correct route to some of the more out of place stars that require jumps.

IsoparkAt other times the game runs more like a pure platformer, with figuring out the correct path not being the hard part, but pulling it off instead. You grab hold of and shimmy along poles, pull yourself up and run along them, drop from great distances and manage trickier jumps. The diversity of the challenges, combined with the freedom to try each one in what ever order you wish, makes for quite an entertaining experience.

The biggest problem with the game is the isometric view, which once again proves to look good, but unfortunately ends up dampening the gameplay somewhat. It works for RPGs so well because they don’t require fast reactions or a need to judge distance or angle too much, but in a platformer that’s exactly what you need. Combine this disorientation with the controls, which consist of the arrows, Z and X keys, and the whole thing becomes a little rigid and less user-friendly as you would hope. Not jumping when you press Z and move at the same time doesn’t help either at times. A fun game, and I’d like to see it taken further, but it could do with some tweaking to make the isometric view work better for a platformer.

  • Cram

    I checked out this game because of your feature of it – having a fun time with it actually. Not sure if the issues I had with the isometric view (e.g., not realizing that a structure was above versus below me) was a flaw or a feature.

    • Chris Priestman

      Depends how you view it really. There’s no rights and wrongs in game design – just preferences, really. It caused me a little frustration and seemed to counteract what the developers were trying to achieve with the game. So the most I can say is that it seems they have obscured what they set out to do via a design that goes against the intent.

  • Mominito

    I beat it! :) I enjoyed the game and think the isometric view is fine for this game.

    Thanks for select to us a nice game beteewn all Global Game Jam’s games. Please, continue featuring the games that worth it like this one.