Tumbleseed is a procedurally generated, roguelike game in which you take on the role of a seed on its journey to the top of a mountain. Along the way you must survive many enemy encounters and overcome the various obstacles thrown your way.
You control your seed in a very unusual way, using a horizontal pole that extends the full width of the screen, each analogue stick on the DualShock 4 controlling one end. You must balance the seed on this horizontal platform, tilting each side in order to roll your seed left and right to avoid the various holes and enemies that litter the path ahead. Although it sounds simple enough, once put into action it's rather fiddly to precisely roll your seed between the obstacles without going too fast that you roll straight into another – it really does test your patience.
If you do so happen to fall down a hole or bump into an enemy you'll lose one of three lives; once all of these are used you will be returned to the bottom of the mountain and have to start from scratch. The worst part is that nothing carries over to your next attempt: you start completely fresh – it's as though your previous run never existed other than on the leaderboards.
Each time you will start out in a forest area with very few holes and enemies and as you progress you'll enter other locations. These places will get progressively more difficult, with holes that cover the majority of the ground and enemies that follow your every move forcing you to pick up the pace. The huge spike in difficulty certainly dampens the whole experience, as your calm and patient nature from earlier areas gets thrown out of the window, instead replaced with frantic chaos as you grapple the controls to try to avoid the gaping mouth of a giant hungry worm who's chasing you.
The procedural generation feels like it doesn't do the game justice with the vast amount of enemies and holes that are created, some areas feel totally impassable. We feel like the game could have been a lot better with some specifically designed levels with multiple different routes to take rather than being entirely randomly generated content.
There are various features put in place to combat the high difficulty and help you on your way. You're able to change into a different variation of seed as and when you so choose: Flagseed allows you to place checkpoints; Heartseed allows you to grow hearts to replenish health; Thornvine grows thorns around it that will kill enemies. These are just a few of the many types of seeds available to play. Along your way there are soft patches of soil that allow you to plant seeds using crystals; planting seeds allows you to use your seed's aforementioned special ability.
The whole game is brightly coloured and features wonderfully abstract environments and creatures to marvel at. The music is equally charming in nature with upbeat and joyful tunes playing throughout your entire journey that helps to keep you from throwing your controller at a wall out of complete frustration after falling down a hole for the hundredth time.
Tumbleseed is a very unique title to say the least. The controls require an indescribable amount of patience to get used to and the difficulty will make you want to bang your head against a wall. However, if you are willing to battle your way past these issues, you will find a pleasantly presented roguelike unlike anything else.