Supraland: Review (PC)
Supraland is a first person-puzzle-adventure game developed and published by (in typical indie game fashion) Supra Games. Having been in early access for the better part of a year, Supraland had already generated a considerable amount of anticipation amongst players who have described it as a hybridization between Portal, Metroid, and Zelda. This description alone was enough to garner my interest as I’ve been in the market for a solid first person puzzler ever since Portal 2 released way back in 2011. Much like Portal, I was also intrigued by the endearing art style and setting, with the game taking place in an imaginary land contained entirely within a young boys sandbox. The player character and NPCs all take the form of simple red and blue clay figures with much of the environment being composed of mundane everyday objects blown up to giant scale. Many of the small details and interactions littered throughout the game are both clever and adorable. In this respect Supraland has not disappointed in the slightest and is already in the running for my favorite indie game of 2019.
As a puzzle game, it succeeds much in the same way the Portal series did by making the solution to the puzzles a mechanic within the game itself, or in this case several mechanics. I’ll refrain from describing too many of these elements or their properties in order to preserve the experience for those who intend to play the game. During your progression throughout the game you unlock or discover new items and abilities which allow you to access new areas or solve previously unsolvable puzzles. As you do so, the levels begin to evolve as well, forcing you to take advantage of your newfound skills, sometimes in ways you didn’t even realize were possible. You will end up revisiting areas several times over every time you obtain one of these new abilities to see if there was something you missed, hence the Metroid comparisons. Thinking outside the box is rewarded and sometimes downright necessary when trying to solve some of the games more complicated sections. At the same time, the game can also be rather forgiving as talking to NPCs can sometimes yield important information that can make your life a lot easier. This brings me to one of my only complaints, if I can even call it that. While I found the hints to be helpful on my playthrough without being too overt in their descriptions, I feel that some hardcore puzzle purists may find some of them to be close to cheating. That being said I feel like my dumb, monkey brain would still be wallowing in the first half of them game if I decided to take the hardcore route.
Something else that also stood out to me during my time in Supraland was the emphasis on exploration, with Legend of Zelda being a huge inspiration in this regard. The world is littered with treasure chests containing a myriad of upgrades to strengthen your character, particularly in regards to health and attack strength. While combat is definitely one of the lesser focuses of the game these chests can contain items that will make your time fighting enemies substantially easier. I’ve always had an affinity for exploration in games, especially when there is an abundance of secrets waiting to be discovered. Many of these secrets include collectible items with references to other games, television shows, and movies. I spent a significant amount of time during my playthrough in pursuit of these secondary objectives, so imagine my surprise when I finished the main storyline of the game only to realize that I had only completed approximately 60 percent of the game, and had discovered barely half of the game’s hidden chests. I realized then that there is enough here in this small $20 indie game to occupy even the most stalwart of completionists for hours on end.
Supraland is a must have for fans of puzzle games, exploration, or people just looking for a cute and clever single player experience to tease their brain too. Even those who may not have been fond of puzzles to begin with may find a gateway with this game, similar to the way that I did with the original Portal. Using gameplay mechanics to effectively build the solution to your problems can be immensely satisfying without the dryness of traditional logic puzzles. Even with the sheer amount of work I still have to do in regards to one hundred percenting this game, I hope that Supra Games has plans for the future. I would love to see new puzzles and abilities down the road and maybe even some expansions to the world at large. Supraland also has the potential to have an amazing map or level editor should the developers find some way to make that accessible to the players. I can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities that user created content could open up in this game. Why not give the players the tools they need to start building their own challenges? The game does take place in a sandbox after all.