The game can feel tedious in places, but its still another solid entry in the Irish studio's growing catalogue of quality PlayStation Minis releases.
Imagine Jet Set Radio crossed with Scott Pilgrim: The Video Game and Limbo and you've pretty much nailed the concept behind Revoltin' Youth. The latest game from Irish studio Open Emotion draws from the influence of a range of sources and conjures up a unique, if at times, unrefined puzzle platformer with a hearty sense of style.
We've become accustomed to Open Emotion's dark presentation over the past several months. Both of the studio's recent releases — Mad Blocker Alpha and Ninjamurai — defined the company's trademark macabre visual style. But Revoltin' Youth takes the company in a completely new direction. Its two-dimensional visuals are vibrant and chunky, giving the impression of an eight-bit title freed from the shackles of technical limitation. The game's audio too is lovingly selected, opting for a highly memorable chiptune soundtrack.
Revoltin' Youth is a puzzle platformer. Spread across 50 unique stages — each playable linearly or in time-attack mode — you control one of three youngsters with unique abilities. Protagonist Badger — a dead-ringer for Jet Set Radio's Beat — is the most-rounded character, able to hack terminals and spray graffiti. As you progress through the campaign you're later joined by thuggish hoodie Cole and purple haired beauty Kamiko.
The twist in Revoltin' Youth is that you control all three characters rather than just selecting one. While Badger is the default, you'll need to use each of the character's abilities to progress. You can hop between them by tapping the shoulder buttons. Without utilising each of the character's strengths you'll find it impossible to progress.
For example: Cole is able to punch enemies and push blocks. But he's slow and can't jump very high, so you'll need to use Kamiko to hop over obstacles and out-run hazards. Kamiko can also climb, but only Badger can use graffiti to vandalise terminals and open up new platforms and areas.
What ensues is a sequence of increasingly difficult puzzle environments, requiring you to take advantage of each of the character's skill-sets in order to progress. The game sometimes lacks visual feedback making the puzzles more of an exercise in trial-and-error rather than bonafide brainwork, but once you start to understand the character's strengths and limitations — and more importantly the game's design philosophy — it comes together in an enjoyable way.
As the game's title suggests, the youth are revolting against the evil industrial Big-Wigs, who have filled the city with provocative marketing. It's a plot that, in honesty, doesn't need much analysis and it all seems contrived to give the game's levels some context. That said, the rebellious youth angle perfectly suits the game's tone, and the character's are brilliantly realised.
Like Open Emotion's previous releases, Revoltin' Youth's design feels a bit rough. In order to complete a level you need to get each of the characters over the finish-line — a distinctly Sonic The Hedgehog-esque sign-post — but Cole, for example, moves terribly slowly making it feel like a bit of a chore to get him there. As the game progresses, the problem is de-emphasised by its puzzle design, but it still feels tedious moving each of the character's across the environment. Perhaps the inclusion of a run button would have solved this particular problem?
The controls too, lack refinement. While the game's emphasis on animation looks fantastic, it can lead to unfortunate mistakes where Cole takes too long to throw a punch, or Badger takes too long to spray graffiti. The lack of immediacy means your constantly having to second-guess the game, and plan your moves ahead, which makes it feel less responsive.
The puzzles are smart though, and genuinely fun to solve. Restarting a stage when you make a mistake right at the end can be frustrating, but with the loading times kept to a minimum and the levels fairly condensed (once you know the solutions levels rarely last longer than a few minutes) it's not a huge issue.
With an attractive visual style, a phenomenal soundtrack and some decent level design, Revoltin' Youth is a competent (and importantly) unique PlayStation Mini. The game lacks refinement in places, but its quirks overshadow its flaws. It's another strong showing from Open Emotion, which is proving itself as something of a PlayStation Minis tour-de-force.