Octahedron isn't quite your regular 2D platformer. The strikingly colourful pixel art doesn't give a whole lot away in screenshots, but there are a couple of key points that afford this clever title a unique flavour. Firstly, you're not heading right, you're heading up. Secondly, and more importantly, you create many of the platforms yourself. This allows for some very creative design, and Octahedron certainly has that.
The game opens with an odd cutscene in which we see our protagonist venture outdoors and stumble across a mysterious shape in the woods. Entranced, he touches the object, which transports him into the mysterious, multi-coloured world of Veetragoul. He's also imbued with the ability to instantly summon platforms beneath his feet, and he'll need it to make his way up through the 50 or so levels and return home.
You begin the game with a standard platform. When you're mid-jump, a press of square or R2 will call one directly underneath you, and you can hold the button to move left or right with the platform for a limited time. Each of the short levels grants you a different number of platforms you can create before you must land on solid ground. This number is usually two, but varies from one to as many as 50. It's made clear how many platforms you have to play with at the start of each stage, but it can be confusing. If you've gotten used to using two and are suddenly restricted to one, for example, it can take a moment to readjust.
Levels are designed around whatever limitation is imposed upon you, of course, and despite one or two difficulty spikes, the stages are a lot of fun to master. Some obstacles and enemies move in time with the pulsing electronic soundtrack, giving Octahedron an almost rhythmic feel as you hop up towards the finish. The platform-creating mechanic is easy to learn, but can be tough to master. This comes down to some devilishly challenging level design, but sometimes it's because of controls that can feel ever so slightly off. Jumps you'd swear were timed correctly won't happen, and you'll fall to a lower level or hit a baddie, which can devolve into a frustrating loop. Once you learn the quirks of the controls it becomes less of an issue, but the game would've benefited from slightly more precise handling.
Strewn throughout each vertical stage are flowers you must collect in order to progress, and shattering light bulbs with your summoned platforms will create more. There are also collectible tetrahedrons which, aside from giving you a sense of completion, build progress towards optional upgrades for your character, such as an extra life, or extending the time a platform will stay active. You're rewarded for playing efficiently, too; you earn medals for beating a level without dying, and using under a certain number of platforms to reach the end. It's nothing complex, but these extra rewards give the game longer legs for those who want the extra challenge.
Beating the first world gives you a second platform to use, and subsequent conquered worlds upgrade it. This platform allows for some interesting interplay with elements of the levels; most bad guys underneath this secondary platform will be destroyed by its downward beam, while this same quality can be used to charge batteries, sling yourself higher at certain points, and more besides. Enemies can react to your platforms in surprising ways, too - one will punish you for using the secondary platform to try and destroy it, forcing you to use your basic walkway instead. Another will see a group of small blocks continue to multiply with every platform you create, which can overwhelm if you're not fast enough.
Performance wise, Octahedron is flawless, rocking a super smooth 60 frames per second without even a whiff of a hitch. This fluid frame rate gives the game a super slick feel that complements the psychedelic visuals. The atmospheric soundtrack, meanwhile, perfectly fits the game, but you will be hearing repeated tracks throughout the adventure.
Octahedron is an unconventional 2D platformer with clever level design centred around an innovative core idea. The controls are very simple but can take some adjusting, especially when your allowance of platforms changes from level to level. However, the stages introduce some great mechanics that make you use your platforms for more than just makeshift floors. If you're looking for a platformer with a difference, Octahedron offers up an accessible, intelligent, and challenging game with more ups than downs.