Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Developer: Ayyo Games
Publisher: Ayyo Games
Review copy provided by Ayyo Games.
Spate is a 2.5D platformer with a great atmosphere and an incredible soundtrack. It centres around the alcoholic Detective Bluth, a PI who is hired to investigate a missing person in the mysterious X Zone — a set of islands coated by poisonous gas clouds some years ago.
The story itself is fairly interesting, though it is told somewhat hamfistedly. As the plot is only revealed to you by the narration or sporadic dialogue, the characters have a tendency to state things abruptly. While this doesn’t detract from the story overall, it does slightly lessen the joy of discovery. Narratively, Spate has an emotional tale about alcoholism and regret that will certainly stick with you. The main character is interesting and has a good backstory, while the side characters are also well-written.
That said, I did find some of the dialogue between characters not fitting the tone of the game particularly well. The attempts at humour were very jarring and out of place, which was a shame as it could disrupt some moments between characters.
The narration from voice actor Jack Bair is great. He constitutes a large portion of what the player hears and was enjoyable to listen to throughout the game, even if his lines weren’t always great. However, his voice is not the star of the auditory show here.
The music, composed by Mike Raznik, is breathtaking. The combination of instruments used is pulled together masterfully. The tracks are haunting and beautiful, and left goosebumps all over, particularly when the string or wind comes in from nowhere. It creates the majority of the atmosphere and does it very well. I would have expected music like this from a three A game, not a three man team. It is by far the star of the show, and the game itself is worth playing just for the soundtrack.
I found the art style fairly pleasing with scenes being well set, thanks to the quality that went into it. It shifts well throughout the game and uses a good palette. I have the same issue with it as I had with the dialogue however, where jarring character models can distract from the moment, though this I found to be a minor grievance graphically. As for the game itself, it ran well, though I did have occasional drops in frame rate.
The game plays decently enough. It mostly consists of basic platforming with occasional minor puzzles or minigames — nothing particularly complex or exciting, but it was passable enough on its own. The game does contain a “drinking” mechanic where upon pressing Alt, the main character will take a sip of absinthe. This causes you to jump higher and run faster, though the graphics skew sideways. Drinking didn’t actually seem to be required to complete any section of the game and is superfluous as far as I can tell.
I found that the game was a bit buggy, particularly in an end section where I fell through platforms. These bugs were very frustrating, and, at times, ruined an otherwise enjoyable experience. However, it is worth noting that the game was coded by one person.
Spate is an overall fun experience that lasts around two hours, give or take. The story is interesting and thought provoking, the music is wonderful and the gameplay serves as a medium to deliver the experience as a whole. A solid title that is definitely worth playing and an excellent foray into the industry from Ayyo Games.