Shiny (Xbox One Review)
I complain a lot about the future we live in. Day long install times, day one DLC, a bloated AAA industry set to fold at any moment. Recently, I played through a remake of 2006’s Rogue Trooper and found it quite refreshing in its simplicity. I was starting to pine for the good old days.
And then Shiny came.
Shiny isn’t supposed to be a throwback, as far as I can tell, but it certainly feels like one. It plays like a muddy Net Yaroze demo and looks only marginally less horrific. An ocular assault made of bloom lighting, grimy textures and awkward, stifled animations that is deeply unpleasant to endure. That’s even before the visual glitches make the textures freak out and put flickering blue squares across the bottom edge of the screen. It doesn’t even have the good graces to run well, regularly dipping below 30fps on my Xbox One S.
The gameplay is about as well put together as the visuals, in that it feels stiff and flat and not at all interesting beyond the desire to know how they got funding to make it. The idea that someone play tested this and said “This is exactly how we want it” is beyond understanding. Movement is stunted, jumping feels like a gamble, sometimes the buttons for switching your abilities seems to just not work. It’s an absolute mess, and when you pair those problems with the blind jumps, awkward platforming and buggy instant kill traps you’ve got a recipe for infuriation.
But what’s the justification for this thankless slog? Well, humans have evacuated the planet Aurora and left robots behind to suffer the fate of crashing into the sun. You fill the grimy metal footplates of Kramer 227 as he makes his way through the internals of the planet saving his useless robot friends and leading them all to safety, I guess. He really just reactivates them and runs off, they appear to be patiently awaiting their doom, honestly.
The one interesting element to the game is how the life bar constantly ticks down as Kramer’s battery slowly drains over the course of the level. You can top it back up with battery packs that are scattered throughout each level, but you’ll only really run low if you take a lot of damage or overuse an ability.
The abilities are a bit odd in themselves. The first one being an energy shield you can use to deflect falling rocks (but not steam or fire), while another is a breathing system that lets you cool Kramer down by button mashing. So instead of, perhaps, finding a shield to deflect or block fire damage, you simply tank the fire and then mash the triggers to cool down after the fact. It slows the whole game down.
And if that wasn’t obstructive enough, we have a bizarre form of a lives system where each checkpoint gives you a set number of tries at the section that comes after it. If you run out of tries, you’re right back to the start of the level, killing all the progress you’ve made. But at some points you need to die at least once to get all the battery packs in a level, limiting your chances
if you want to go for full completion. It feels like a poor compromise and a poor replacement for a traditional lives system. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, and if you don’t like what ain’t broke, don’t try to change it.
Shiny takes the simple concept of platforming and messes it up on every single level. It’s a blind jump off a falling platform on the last life from your most recent checkpoint. It’s running to the end of a ledge and dropping off because the game didn’t pick up your jump command. It’s getting your latest Official Playstation Magazine subscription and finding out the demo disc is full of Net Yaroze games and trailers. It’s a really not fun game and I would actively recommend against buying it.
It’s clunky, it’s ugly and it’s held together with cellotape and spit. At least its playable, although it’s anything but Shiny.