It’s Red, You’re Dead, But There Is No Redemption
Do you like the color red? Are you partial to Sega Genesis-esque pixel graphics? Do you enjoy a game that’s punishingly brutal and tells you nothing? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then I have the perfect game for you!
Chamber is a Metroidvania-style platformer by o3one kinetics where almost everything is a shade of red: it features red blocks, red backgrounds, and even a red filter over the screen. There’s some white and black in there for good measure, but mostly everything is red. Red, red, red! It’s a unique style choice, but it’s more of a gimmick than anything else.
You’ll move through the world of Chamber with all the grace of a goose, leaping over obstacles and avoiding sets of swinging axes that would make Poe proud. You might occasionally chain a dash jump with a wall hop, getting a brief sense of satisfaction before falling or dying from yet another awkwardly placed trap. The bright moments are few and the punishing failures are plentiful.
A Penchant For Fatalism
Chamber brings nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay. You know what you’re in for the second it starts. Button prompts on the screen tell you how to jump, dash, shoot, and there’s a d-pad to move. You’ll make your little fellow hop and run his way through procedurally generated levels filled with traps, spikes, and the occasional spider monster. You will also die. A lot. I played the game for six hours and racked up over 80 deaths.
Floaty controls killed me more than anything. The d-pad tries to mimic a thumbstick, but ends up missing the mark too often. The d-pad’s imprecise controls cause problems, especially when blocks are just barely big enough to stand on. You also have a wall jump ability, but it doesn’t help as much as you’d hope, often sending your character tumbling all the way down, forcing you to make your way back up again and again.
Swords & Spiders: An Unpredictable Adventure
Sometimes hidden swords come out of walls, just at the top, right where you need to wall jump. They’ll also pop out of the ground and ceiling, seemingly placed in the most purposefully anger-inducing spots. A small rubble animation, along with a sound effect, plays when you’re near them, but won’t if you’re off-screen. Most of the time you’ll never know they exist until you lose half a heart or die. In a game that seems to encourage fast and decisive movements, these things will make you play more cautiously, going against the nature of the game.
There are big spiders who, for some reason, shoot bullets at you. You typically won’t see them in the first two chambers, so they’re not too much of a problem until later. But later, you will almost certainly die the first time you encounter one. They make no noise while patrolling a room, moving back and forth, whipping around the second they see you and unloading a burst of three shots in your direction. If you’re lucky and spot them before they’re alerted to your position, it’s possible to jump over their bullets and kill them.
No Narrative, No Tips, No Problem
Why are there rootin’ tootin’ spiders? I don’t know. I don’t really understand anything that’s happening in the game. There’s no explanation and no real motivation for you to keep going. There are gems to collect, but they don’t seem to do anything, only acting as an arbitrary number to add up. Maybe they do in another part of the game, but the difficulty prevented me from getting further than the third level.
There are a number of things in the game that don’t seem to matter. Shooting is only good for destroying torches–which only gives you more bullets and hearts (a mechanic that is never explained)–or killing spiders. Chests appear, but also only have hearts and bullets inside. If you do it right, you can avoid most of the level and find the door to the next. It makes exploring unnecessary.
Wrap It Up!
I would’ve liked to see more motivation to play, a double jump or just a more stable jump in general, as well as more enemies. As it stands, the game feels half-finished and lacking. If you want a challenging game to kill some time, then it’s worth the $2.50, otherwise, Chamber will leave you seeing red (look, I had to).
Is it Hardcore?
Weak controls, brutal gameplay, and a lack of narrative mar an otherwise stylish game.