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Review copy provided by developer via Curator Connect
Look, I get the appeal of making games about geometric objects. It worked for Geometry Wars and Lumines and EDGE after all, and you’d think it obviates the need for a talented artist. But all three of those games had a compelling, undeniable style to their presentation and rock-solid gameplay beneath the slick veneer. Rebons has neither of those, offering only some limited, sticky platforming with plain shapes around plain levels. There are quite a few elements of design that indicate there’s more to the game the further in you get, but it seems the developers massively overestimated how engaging their opening act was.
Rebons, or Rebellion Polygons as the opening splash clarifies, is a game about navigating geometric shapes around levels. Each shape has different traits, like the square sticking to walls and the circle being bouncy. You’ll have to use a combination of these shapes to reach the exit of each level, which is always a string of platforms rife with spikes and sawblades and moving bits suspended above a deadly void. One wrong step will pop your piece and send you to start the level over. If you can reach the end you can also challenge yourself to beat the par times or snatch up the diamonds suspended in tricky parts of the stage.
The tutorial acclimates you to all five of the shapes and their powers, so allow me to recap. The square sticks to walls, the circle rolls and bounces, the star can break hazards like spikes, the triangle can clone itself to use as platforms, and the octagon is like a fast square that’s immune to small spikes. Obviously there’s a huge gulf in utility between some of these shapes, so it’s a bit of a shock when you complete the tutorial to find that you only have access to the square and the circle. The other three are unlocked using the diamonds you find in levels, but while you can find five to ten diamonds a level, the cheapest shape costs 750 to unlock. Diamonds are also used to unlock customization options like shape decorations and trails for 50 or so apiece, as well as additional sets of levels for thousands of diamonds.
I’m not entirely sure why the unlock system is designed like a mobile game, especially when there are no microtransactions to make up for the disappointing diamond economy. Having unlocks that seem eternally out of reach is not a wise use of the system and does far more to discourage players than keep them hooked. It also doesn’t help that the base game only features 20 levels, each with an easy and hard version. There are plenty of multiplayer modes like co-op and races and tournaments but at no point did I ever see a single other player online. It may be just as well, as the sticky, imprecise movement of the shapes wouldn’t lend itself well to any sort of competition.
Ultimately it feels like the developers expected Rebons to be far more popular than it is. They expected people to fill up the multiplayer and make their own fun, and stick with the game long enough to unlock all the remotely interesting parts. But they forgot that first impressions are key, and scooting ugly shapes around ugly levels for virtually no reward does not make for any kind of hook. The fundamentals of a platformer, the controls, simply are not up to any kind of snuff and neither is anything else attached to them. For a platformer, for a multiplayer game, and even for a geometric shape game, you can find far better options very easily.