Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Imagine Me Early Access impressions
Developer KinifiGames has hit the Steam Early Access scene with its debut title Imagine Me. I've played the game a few times since its March 14 arrival, and in that time, it's gotten a number notable updates. The project has gone from a basic platformer with a brief tutorial to a slightly trickier platformer with a better tutorial and a some procedurally generated content. The story bits are also being fleshed out, making the whole thing feel just a tad more complete.
In its current state, the tutorial in Imagine Me is the main reason to play the game. Comprised of 12 stages, this introductory mode does a good job of getting you acquainted with the controls and different environmental features. The stages aren't very challenging, nor are they especially lengthy, but they provide a nice little dose of entertainment nonetheless. It's within these stages where you can collect some Polaroid pictures that provide insight on how protagonist Robbe lost his memories.
What makes playing through the quick tutorial stand out so much is how precise the controls are. Controlling Robbe is tight and responsive, and the fact that the game already sports Xbox 360 controller support is great. Jumping off springs still doesn't work as well as it should, though, and timing a high jump is particularly troublesome. That said, running and moving around while airborne don't pose any problems whatsoever.
As far as level features are concerned, the recurring element is the spring. These things are everywhere. Later stages have blocks you can push, but they don't exactly make for meaningful puzzles. There are also plenty of spikes littered everywhere. The combination of springs and spikes makes for the biggest challenge in Imagine Me, but even when you get caught off guard by a surprise death, figuring out how to clear a stage isn't all that taxing. Here's hoping we see some more environmental hazards and obstacles other than the common springs and those devilish spikes.
The story aspect of Imagine Me isn't all that deep. Once you collect a Polaroid, you can access it by entering a different menu from Robbe's room. Currently, there's no imagery for the story, and what you get instead are tiny bits of text narrated by the main character. The fact that you're learning the story slowly while collecting items within stages is nice, but the lack of images or cutscenes is kind of a drag.
One of the biggest updates in Imagine Me came in the form of procedurally generated levels. KinifiGames has stated that this is the main feature in the game, but unfortunately, these levels don't quite work the way they should just yet. While playing, sometimes the layout would be slightly altered, but I usually got the same stage. In addition, there was no real challenge as all I had to do was run to the right, bounce off a spring, and land in a doorway. It makes me think that maybe the game's focus should be on developer-created levels instead of randomly generated content.
One particular issue really stood out with the random level generator. More than a few times, I encountered stages that simply couldn't be completed. This was due to Robbe spawning in a room with walls too tall to jump over and no springs to bounce off of. The level generator is the biggest indicator that Imagine Me still has a long way to go, and it's hard to figure out why it would be included in an update if it's in such a rough stage.
Imagine Me is still in its alpha stages and as such has a long way to go to get to where both the developer and players want it to be. That said, the basic blueprint for something good has already been set, and with some huge additions in store, this game could be a big deal once it graduates from its Early Access state. Support the game if you're a huge proponent of puzzle-platformers. But if you're on the fence, hold off for at least a few more major updates.
For more on Imagine Me and KinifiGames, check out our interview with Co-Founder and Lead Programmer Chris Figueroa.
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