System(s): PC, Mac
Release Date: March,12 , 2014
Publisher (Developer): Mages (IGS)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
First of all, I’d like to apologize to the developers of Constant C. I had intended to have this review done a fair bit sooner, but that would require sitting down and typing. Unfortunately, I had better things to do; like sitting around playing Constant C. You see, Constant C is this indie game originally developed for Android from Taiwanese developer IGS, which recently had its Windows and Mac ports Greenlit by the Steam community.This is one of those games where I looked at the trailers, and honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it. It didn’t look bad, but it just kinda struck me as “yet another gravity flipping” game, with a cute sci-fi aesthetic. It didn’t take more than a few minutes of playing to discover how wrong I was.
“The speed of light in a vacuum”
That up there is the definition of the mathematical construct known in physics as Constant C. Constant C the game is a puzzle/platformer based around two mechanics: one familiar, one new and fairly novel. The basic concept is manipulation of both time and gravity in combination to navigate puzzle-based levels of a space station frozen in time.You play as a robot that has awoken in a space station for unknown reasons. A quick chat with the main computer and you learn that the station and everything in it has become trapped in time, with the crew being deceased. Being equipped with this super-convenient item that makes both you and the computer are resistant to the frozen time effect so you, naturally, need to save the day.
Across the fourth dimension
The mechanics in Constant C are the crux of the whole game, and what I’m going to focus on the most. That aforementioned time-shield-thingy is what makes Constant C so unique. There is a small bubble surrounding your little robot where time flows normally. Any object that comes into contact with this bubble becomes unstuck so long as it remains in the bubble. Combine this with the ability to flip gravity in any of 4 directions, and you start to see all the wonderful possibilities. Or maybe you don’t, because its honestly kind of hard to fully grasp until you actually start doing it.
An example: There is a crate suspended in the air up by the ceiling. You need that crate elsewhere. Flip gravity upside down and walk along the ceiling to the crate so its within your time-bubble. Now flip gravity upside down, and the crate falls back to the floor with you. Now flip gravity 90 degrees so the crate “drops” along the floor to where you actually need it. This is a simple scenario, but it gives you some idea of what the game is all about. Toss in lasers, endless death pits, saw blades, and all manner of other things that make zero sense on what is the most suicidally, inefficiently designed space station in history, and you have some wonderfully mind-bendy puzzles. Pro tip: items frozen in time keep their previous momentum until they meet your bubble again, then ZING!
The controls are simple, but you really, really need to use an XBOX 360 controller. Don’t waste time trying to keyboard your way through it, I can’t imagine how Constant C ever worked on Android. The controls a bit slow and floaty, but deliberately slow and they work very well, just takes a little getting used to.
The graphics are as deceptively simple as everything else in the Constant C. Nothing fancy or impressive, but well executed, and frankly, kind of cute. The game will run without issue on pretty much anything (I played through it on my Surface Pro without a hitch) and look good doing it. Sound department is pretty much the same: simple but effective. It’s an ongoing theme really; the game is very much centered on its core mechanics without distractions.
Those core mechanics would be nothing if there weren’t compelling puzzles built around them. Thankfully the level design is spot on. It may make for a terrible space station, but it leads to some brilliantly executed time/gravity/momentum based puzzles. The levels are small and short, so even when you die and have to start over (and you will, a lot) it isn’t a big deal. Most of the puzzles are only a couple ”moves” once you figure out what they are, and mange to execute them correctly. Constant C shows its mobile roots in the brevity of its individual levels despite actually being a fairly long game (over 100 levels) and is all the better for it.
As you play through you will unlock recordings of the events leading up to the current situation that is fairly humorous, yet surprisingly serious at the same time. Its weird playing a puzzle/platformer that actually has a compelling-ish plot complete with villains, corporate greed, and an apparently crazy robot. How often do you see that?
The best kind of surprise
The takeaway from all of this is that Constant C is a very fun game. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was quite wrong. Constant C is actually rather unique thanks to the brilliant “time bubble” gimmick. With effective controls, wonderful presentation, and solid level design, with a plot that is just the icing on the cake, my only real complaint is that it can get to feel rather repetitive repetitive after a while unless you play in short chunks, and the difficulty curve tends to jump all over the place from one level to the next. Overall, Constant C is a surprisingly good game that I highly recommend checking out.
Site [Constant C]