Splasher, originally released on PC through Steam, has now come out for consoles. We checked out the PS4 version.
During the summer of 2016, I got my first sample of Splasher when I met up with French developer/publisher The Sidekicks. They have since merged into Playdius, and Playdius has brought the game to consoles now. Despite the earlier PC release, I didn’t play the game again until I started up the PS4 version – but I remembered instantly why I liked it over a year ago.
In Splasher, you’re a worker at an ink factory that’s led by the evil Docteur – who has it out for you and your fellow Splasher. It’s up to you to save your colleagues with the aid of your water/paint gun, and that’s about the extent of the story development in the game. It’s more of a premise than a story, really, and that’s okay – many classic and modern platformers have followed a similar pattern and succeeded at being great.
Part of the development team for Splasher previously worked on the modern day Rayman titles, which was a great reason to be interested in the first place. I believe that the level design was one of the overlaps between the titles, and it shows when playing Splasher – it may not have the visual shine of Rayman, but the platforming is rock solid.
As always, running and jumping is the basic dynamic here – but “splashing” about with your gun creates a nice twist to the old formula. On the surface, Splasher looks a little like a colorful take on Super Meat Boy. It has a similar 2D art style, and generally tight level design too – though levels are bigger than those in Super Meat Boy. But… spikes and blades will definitely end your turn often and quickly, as they do in Team Meat’s game.
You can use your water gun to shoot at enemies, but a far more interesting dynamic comes once you start using the different paint colors that are available. For instance, painting a surface yellow will allow you to bounce off it – and other colors perform different functions to help you traverse the levels and their dangers. Most levels are horizontally oriented, but others see you ascending as quickly as possible as you avoid the rising tide.
Although the Super Meat Boy reference might suggest otherwise, Splasher isn’t a game that you want to rush through. You might miss secrets and collectibles that way, and you’ll probably die a lot quicker and a lot more often. Of course some levels force you into rushing, but generally you can take your time and think about the combination you’re about to pull off – which usually involves a mix of jumping and firing the right paints at the right time. Yes, the game is still extremely challenging this way – but its difficulty level isn’t as punishing as you might think. Another reason to take things easy is that you need to collect enough special paint to set an extra splasher free at the end of the level – which includes both taking the time to collect it and making sure you don’t die in the process, since that causes you to lose your ‘paint progress’. For those interested in speedrunning the game instead though, there’s a mode for that as well.
Splasher is a great little platformer that, despite its very indie appearance, has some extremely mature gameplay and level design to it. It’s a joy to play and, and its price point, a great buy for platforming fans.