Shaking soon to PC comes DoubleShake. A retro-inspired 2.5D indie-platformer developed by Rightstick Studios. In DoubleShake you play as Loam, a young woman who is rudely awoken from a nap by an erupting volcano which she and her friend Dinx head out to investigate. However, there is more to this eruption than meets the eye. You’ll jump, kick, throw, and shake strange monsters in a game in the tradition of Tombi and Mischief Makers.
By now you’ll be used to reading my previews and reviews on retro-inspired titles on KeenGamer. However, what makes this one different is that it takes inspiration from some cult classic titles. And credit where it is due, I feel that the developers have done a great job replicating them. Naturally being in a Beta state it’s a little rough around the edges. But playing a game like this soothes bitter ol’ Chris’s heart. With that said let us throw ourselves into the preview.
STORY – SHAKE IT UP
In DoubleShake you play as Loam a plucky young lass who is chilling at home one day. Then suddenly the volcano Thermotopia erupts violently throwing large molten rocks all over her home island. So she sets out on a quest to try and find out what has triggered the eruption and save her home. However, along the way she uncovers some weird monsters that are starting to appear from a series of portals.
Even at this point, DoubleShake is well written. And this beta features a fine amount of world and character building which helps to sell the experience. It strikes a good balance of giving us enough story to understand what is going on and doesn’t force you to sit through too many long dialogue sequences. Sure, it’s still early days. But the writing works well enough to create a world and cast almost as colourful as their designs.
Our cast of characters is fun for what we see of them. I don’t have a lot of complaints. And I look forwards to what will be done with them going forwards. However, I do worry that beyond their quirkiness they might be lacking in depth. Sure, the writing needn’t be serious or dour. As lord knows there are plenty of colourful indie games with quirky characters rather dark subtext out there. However, I do feel that they just need something to round them off and make them feel as interesting as their designs are.
The short character interactions that are present in the title at the moment are enjoyable. And aren’t overwritten nor are they too witty for their own good. It all makes for a pleasant experience overall. I can’t go too deep into it because what we get is a relatively small slice of the story. However, it ticks all the right boxes to create an intriguing story which I look forwards to seeing developed in the final product.
GAMEPLAY – GRABBING TIME
DoubleShake is a 2.5D platformer that, as mentioned in the intro, takes heavy inspiration from Tombi (or Tomba for those in North America) and Mischief Makers. And for the most part, I feel that it does a commendable job in recreating not only the look but feel of both of them. In DoubleShake you grab onto unsuspecting or stunned enemies and then throw the about to defeat them. Or give them a ruddy good shaking. Possibly shaking out some extra money and health from them in the process.
Grabbed enemies can be thrown at other foes, thrown at switches to open new areas, or used to give you a double jump to access harder to reach areas. The gameplay and controls of DoubleShake are easy to understand and get to grips with. And it can be played using either a controller or keyboard if you so wish. Though of the two, the controller is the best option. But either way, the title handles well. The accessibility of control has made DoubleShake a fine title to preview. And offers an experience that is fun to play even if you aren’t familiar with the games which inspired it.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED
As much as I have enjoyed playing through DoubleShake for this preview I have to say that it is easy to soft-lock if you aren’t careful. For those unaware of the term, ‘soft-locking’ a game is when either due to a bug or some unforeseen quirk or action by the player or the game the player is unable to advance or leave an area. And regrettably, that is something that has happened multiple times during my time playing the title.
There are various areas in the DoubleShake where the only way to advance is to use an enemy to double jump to a higher point. This mechanic on its own is great fun when it works as intended. However, if you accidentally kill the monster you are supposed to use or return to that area when that monster has been used for this purpose you’ll soon find that said beastie doesn’t respawn. The only way to get it to respawn is to kill the player character and then return to that location. Which needless to say is less than ideal.
DOUBLESHAKE DOUBLE RATTLE
There is much to enjoy in DoubleShake. And whilst the title does have a few rough edges and weird quirks about it that is wholly understandable given where it is in the title’s development. The demo offers a great slice of the game. And any issues that I have had are things that can easily be ironed out in time. The title does have big shoes to fill as the games that it is emulating are beloved cult classics.
It will be interesting to see how DoubleShake evolves beyond the preview; the demo is a great slice of gameplay like I said but it will need more variety to make it a must-have game. It is very much trading on the nostalgia of a collection of niche titles. And the developers will need to ensure they go all out to make sure that the full release lives up to the potential that the demo shows.
GRAPHICS & AUDIO – THROWBACK
As I wrote earlier, I have written about many titles here at KeenGamer that have tried to recreate the look and feel of an old school platform or series. However, DoubleShake is the one that I feel has managed to nail the look of the 32-Bit consoles the best. It replicates the look so well that it looks like a title fresh off the original PlayStation. Sure, this is a trend that has been growing considerably over the past three or so years. But DoubleShake does it remarkably well.
DoubleShake near-perfectly recreates the look of a game from the PlayStation One to an amazing degree. And yes, you can play it without the filter if you so wish. However, I feel that kind of defeats the point of playing the game to a certain point. But if this style is a hard sell for you it is there. Still, it’s a lot of fun regardless of how you choose to make it look. So either way, you are in for a good time.
SHINEY HAPPY PEOPLE
Even beyond the technical side of things, DoubleShake is brilliantly designed with some wonderfully bright and colourful characters and world design. It looks as though every square inch of the game world has been carefully planned and created. This gives the world not just a very innovative flow to it, but also makes it look amazing.
Even the NPCs have a unique look to each of them. With many looking as well designed as our main cast. There is a part of me that does wonder if some characters are a little over-designed. I can understand the main characters getting a rather more complex look to them. But I do worry that some NPCs might start to look rather busy when the final game releases.
DOUBLESHAKE IT UP
DoubleShake‘s soundtrack is rather small. With only a couple of tracks featuring on the entire thing. Though that is expected given where the title is right now. And to be honest with you it is enjoyable. It has an almost summery feel to most of it which are apt given the location the beta is set. It helps to sell the mood and the feel of the adventure itself. And whilst most of the rest of the game is retro-inspired DoubleShake doesn’t try too hard to replicate a retro sound.
There is a part of me that wishes there was a little more to it. Though honestly, I’m not sure if that is because I literally want more or if I feel that the soundtrack needs beefing up a little; the quality of music in Indie titles these days is honestly fantastic and whilst I wouldn’t say that DoubleShake‘s is bad it leaves me wanting more. But then, given this is a preview wanting more is always welcome.