Video games can appeal to people for a number of reasons. Some offer the satisfaction of conquering unreasonably difficult challenges. Others present complex stories with interesting characters. Still more exist simply for the sake of having fun. Newt One, a new 3D platformer from 2-man indie developer DevNAri, lands closest to that latter category. A game that balances closer to accessibility than difficulty, Newt One is a serene and colorful adventure that contrasts with the usual grimness of the video game landscape.
The story takes a backseat in this game, presenting you with two likable characters and getting right into the game: Newt, the character players control, and Curno, a companion dog, elephant…creature. These two characters have bright personalities that immediately endeared me to their quest to awaken their slumbering grey worlds to lively color. Spending time with Curno and Newt kept me engaged with the world even though the first levels of the game present lackluster challenges.
Unlike many modern platformers, Newt One isn’t concerned much with difficulty. Challenges ramp up slowly and, for the first two worlds, there are hardly any obstacles to progression. Developer DevNAri states that this was intentional in order to craft a game where the difficulty ramps up slowly to ensure the player remains in a “flow-state,” able to interact with the world with a measured and calm mental state. This flies in the face of traditional platformer design and is a bit hard to get used to. Newt’s movement feels slow and awkward at first and he never feels as satisfying to control as Madeleine or Mario. Once I accepted the developer’s serene approach to gameplay, however, I found the later levels to be more satisfying than those at the beginning.
New components are introduced slowly like platforms that turn ninety degrees and tiles that boost Newt’s jump to previously unreachable heights. The penalty for “failure” during these trials is small with the game immediately respawning Newt at his furthest previous progression point. This is, again, to ensure players aren’t jarred out of that all-important flow state. This state is also emphasized by the various tones that play as you bring color back to the worlds. It’s definitely satisfying to look back on a previously greyed-out level and see vibrant purples, greens, oranges, blues, and reds flooding the screen.
Newt One is an interesting game to play. It isn’t satisfying in the conventional sense of video games, but there is an undeniable charm to its bubbly personality. Once you get into the flow state and realize what the developers were trying to achieve with their slow-paced design, the game does earn the vibrancy it presents. There are many excellent platformers for gamers to choose from nowadays and you can’t exactly compare the efforts of larger teams to that of a two-man studio. Yet Newt One offers a very specific kind of play experience and I hope that the niche of gamers this title appeals to will discover the tranquil, bright, and charming world of Newt One.
**You can pick up Newt One from the Utomik marketplace for 50% off its $10 retail price if you purchase it within the launch window**