The Sony PlayLink initiative was an interesting experiment for company games and cooperative titles. Take a similar approach to Jackbox Board games, players use their phone as a controller, enabling exclusive features that are not present on a standard DualShock 4. PlayLink games fill the gap between video games and physical party games, allowing for cooperation and subversion in titles such as Hidden agendaand curiosity in something similar To know is power. If in some way we can turn a crime into a social game, why not make platforms?
Melbits World It reminds me a lot of Lemmings. You will not control the same melodies, but your actions will determine how they cross each level. Designed for two or four players, each person controls one or two aspects of the environment, be it a moving block, an elastic spring bearing, rotating platforms or a variety of other obstacles and cross-movement mechanisms. Each object is controlled by different types of gestures on the phone, such as touching the screen, scrolling or rotating the entire device. Ultimately, your goal is to take at least two of the four melodies that are generated in the inlet piping to the outlet pipeline, collecting a variety of small collectibles and objects along the way.
Initially seemingly simple, levels quickly become difficult and more complex. Cyclical routes to collect objects, viruses that kill melodies and attack your phone, and juggle more melodies and environmental obstacles together lend themselves to the challenge. The game is much simpler with four players, as it divides the control of obstacles more evenly, even if communication becomes the challenge. With only two players, you do not just have to focus on the multiple objects you control, but also on which side of the phone screen does what. Understanding how to get every object in every level will test your communication, your coordination and, perhaps most importantly, your patience.
Melbits World Review: Waiting on a Melbit
Your patience will not only be tested in the collection of objects though. Just playing Melbits World it's a test of doing a lot of waiting around for the melodies to get where you want them to be. Players can hold down a fast forward button, but all players must hold it down so that the game can actually accelerate (I assume it will prevent a person from being able to control everyone else). Sometimes the division of controlled objects is such that one player does almost everything for the first half of the level, while the other player does everything for the second half (in a two-player game.) With four players, he still dilutes more).
Melbits World It's a fun little game, but its addition to the PlayLink line is more of a gimmick than requiring the use of the phone to play. Almost everything that the phone does for the game could be just as easily achieved with the DualShock 4 controller, especially with the touch pad. Of course, there are some fun and imaginative tricks, like dressing up your melbit with items that you collect through the game and take a selfie to identify which environmental objects are yours to control, but those are auxiliary mechanisms. Nothing on the basic gameplay of Melbits World really justifies the need to convince everyone to download a whole separate app just to play it.
A big party game is fun and engaging for all the players involved, and conveys the feeling of "one more round" every time a level or session comes to an end. Although there is a feeling of satisfaction with having perfectly completed a level, Melbits World never really pushed me to keep playing. The management of the melody paths began to look more like a chore than a game of society, and if I wanted to keep playing or not, my wife had ended up with that. Sorry for solo players. You must have at least one other person who wants to play with you, and my friend co-op has not found enough fun to endure, let alone play the levels looking for those perfect completions. The pace is a bit too slow to justify the desire to go back.
Melbits World Review: players and phones not included
I suppose if you want a real challenge you can try playing it alone with two phones. It is certainly possible to a certain extent. I tried it myself for some stages, but again, the pace often made me ask "is it over?" Rather than increasing for another level. This will not be the game I'm loading when friends and relatives come to visit us. It could be a fun distraction, but like most PlayLink games, there are too many obstacles to becoming a high-quality company game. It is important to ask everyone to connect to the WiFi of my home and then have them all download from a new app on their phones just to play a few levels and then get bored. In fact, my wife has already asked me if she can cancel Melbits World from his phone. I think I did not take that Platinum Trophy.
This is indeed a problem with the PlayLink initiative in general. Often compared to Jackbox games, PlayLink games are cluttered with the need to download an entire app (as opposed to just visiting the simple and clean Jackbox website) and connect to the local WiFi network. Games are often too involved to be simple and spontaneous social games. There is definitely a unique angle that the use of a phone as a controller can lead to a game, but Melbits World it does not make optimal use of an already clandestine initiative.
Conceptually, I have to praise Melbot Studios for the themes of positivity in the game. Melbits are creatures that spread good vibrations and positivity on the Internet, so they think we are helping these little beings to promote peace, love and understanding is a message I can get behind. Apart from the really nice graphics, however, a theme is not enough to support replayability. I'm sure that having four regular players could make it more engaging to play more often, but it's a very specific and niche audience that absolutely needs more people to even play, let alone enjoy it.
Melbits World It's an interesting and fun party puzzle platformer, but its pace is just a (mel) bit too slow to encourage repeated or long play sessions. It is a very simple concept that requires too many obstacles through the PlayLink system to be the kind of game that is pulled out for parties or meetings. If I'm going to ask friends or family members to download and app and connect to my WiFi, the gain must be worth it, otherwise I find it better to give them a controller. Melbits World does not use enough telephone functions to justify the membership of the PlayLink initiative in the same way as To know is power or It is you! do. It's well built and fun, but it's not the kind of thing that could really help define PlayLink. Instead it shows that the concept of phones as a Sony controller still has some wrinkles to be ironed.
A copy of the Melbits world review provided by the publisher. Version 1.00 magazine on PS4 standard. For more information on the score, please read our review policy.