Constant C is a new puzzle platformer from International Games System. In it, you control a robot that awakes from a slumber of sorts on a space station where time has seemingly stopped. What’s the cause of this? How do you fix it? Through the course of the game, you acquire abilities that allow you to manipulate gravity in order to repair that which has been broken.
These powers work quite well, too. The fact that the map can twist around based on which wall you call the floor at any given moment means that puzzles can span each extremity of the environment. This makes for highly engaging and interesting conundrums. What’s more is that the game does an excellent job of allowing you to slowly wade into the experience and acclimatise to the mechanics.
Or at least, it does for a while. In the early going, the learning curve here is impressively gradual and the pacing works great, teaching you how everything works. However, as the experience wears on, and more elements are introduced, the learning curve becomes steeper and steeper until it’s practically impossible to keep pace with.
As such, if you’re looking for a more casual experience, you won’t be able to finish this intergalactic journey without getting frustrated. And that’s a real shame, as the writing is great. While it initially opens with a fairly standard ‘wake up and everyone’s gone’ scenario, the complexities of the story and the development of its characters are handled spectacularly.
Speaking of the characters, the art style prompted a spot of bother for this particular writer. While the models are pleasant to look at, they’re a little too cutesy for the ruthless death animations that you’ll encounter throughout the course of the game, which creates a bit of a weird tonal dissonance. The fact that there’s a fail state at all isn’t exactly problematic, it’s just the way that it’s depicted.
Of course, it doesn’t help that outside of these adorable personalities, you’ll be working your way through mostly bland and uninteresting backdrops that do very little to enhance the experience at all. Once you’ve seen the first few levels, there’s not really a whole lot else to keep you interested over the course of the rest of the adventure.
It’s not just the visuals that are disappointing either, as the soundtrack doesn’t feel like it meshes with the gameplay. It’s a suitably sci-fi sounding score – which is enjoyable in isolation – but it feels strangely out of place throughout. Without voice acting and very few other sound effects in the game, this is a real shame, as the soundtrack is needed to carry the audio department, but it fails.
Furthermore, it’s odd that a song recently released to promote the game wasn’t even implemented into the experience. Pretend by the band I Fight Dragons boasts a music video that is inspired by the game, but it’s nowhere to be found in this version of the release. As a big fan of the group, this scribe may be a little biased, but it’s an unfortunate omission all the same.
Presentational issues aside, it’s good that the game at least plays well. Great feeling controls are pivotal to the success of platformers, and the action here feels very tight. The performance is strong throughout, too, with the framerate being particularly sturdy – another necessity considering the genre.
Constant C is enjoyable enough, but it never really ventures beyond that. In spite of a few areas where the title feels tonally disjointed, this is an entertaining intergalactic affair that may be worth taking a look at. Strong controls, cunning puzzles, and a surprisingly solid story offset a disconnected soundtrack and steep learning curve. It’s not bad, then – but in shooting for the stars, this release ends up tepidly hovering somewhere in the stratosphere.