Worldless – the artwork will leave you speechless (Picture: Thunderful)
As video game graphics become ever more complex the 2D action and exploration of Worldless shows it’s the art that matters, not the tech.
NATO’s military symbology, which thanks to American media permeates Western consciousness at every level, uses red to represent enemies and blue to denote allies. Video games frequently conform to that convention, most famously in Halo, whose primary-coloured multiplayer heroes gave rise to the long running comedy series Red vs. Blue, about the more mundane aspects of the Spartan warriors’ lives.
In the largely silent world of Worldless, it’s closer to orange vs. blue, represented by simply drawn figures whose heads glow in their opposing colours. You start as blue, your pared back avatar barely more than four points of light, a flowing scarf attached to its neck and, during battles, a lucent sword and shield.
Walking around its similarly sparse levels, sketched in with single lines and simple but beautiful backdrops, you’ll notice flowers springing up wherever you walk, gradually populating the newly born universe with life. Hopping between platforms and avoiding bodies of water, you navigate its 2D scrolling levels via a central hub, accessed via rectangular portals that sit at the entrance to each area.
As you explore, you’ll also stumble across angular, line-drawn beasts to challenge in precise, turn-based combat. Starting with a physical and magical attack, your character also has matching blocks to deploy against enemies. Taking turns to strike and defend, a power bar rapidly expires as you get in as many blows as possible, then, as your foe hits back, you watch for cues telling you what sort of power they’re about to unleash, so you can choose the correct defence against it.
Timing is everything. Although you have shields that stop each type of attack, those wear down with use, unless you time your defence to start at almost the exact moment you’re being hit. Get a perfect guard and your shield remains unblemished even by forceful hits. It gives battles an elegant rhythm of parry and assault, your avatar’s graceful movements adding to the sense of a deadly ballet.
In every fight, your goal is to absorb the soul of your opponent, which you can only do by building up an absorption bar, which slowly fills as you land successful hits. You can accelerate the process by matching your attacks with enemies’ weaknesses, which change constantly over the course of the battle. You soon also realise that, like Devil May Cry, you’re penalised for spamming the same type of attack, but rewarded for constructing combos of magic, melee, ice, electrical, and fusion attacks.
Once the absorption bar’s sufficiently full, you can attempt to extract your enemy’s essence using a four-button combination that changes with every fight. The twist is that the fuller the power bar when you make the attempt, the more of the button combination you’re shown. Hit the absorb power early, and you’ll …read more