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Deleveled Review

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1054474549_Deleveledlogo.jpg.e32763bedfe6e1b8a58b9efe0b7f3ca3.jpgHow do you move around in a platformer that doesn't allow you to jump? In Deleveled, from developer ToasterFuel and publisher the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, it's a matter of momentum. In this unusual puzzle-platformer you control two simple squares that gravitate to each other from the top and bottom of the screen, but when one bumps into the platform that the other is resting on, the momentum carries through to propel the square to new heights. Once you get your head wrapped around the concept, you're treated to a wealth of challenging, mind-bending puzzles.
By all appearances, Deleveled looks like a pretty simple game, but its modest presentation belies an impressively complex puzzle system. The goal of each stage is to hit all switches to activate the glowing goal points, then navigate the squares into these points. On paper, a seemingly simple task. In reality, Deleveled will twist your brain into knots as you try to work out exactly how to reach remote switches without leaving behind the other square. When you have essentially two "characters" to manipulate on screen at all times, you have to start thinking carefully about how to move throughout each stage. Each square's movement is linked to the other's, so you have to be wary of stranding one with no means of moving.
It's the mark of a great puzzle game to take a simple concept and work it into dozens of inventive challenges, and that's exactly what Deleveled does. Over the course of the game the stages get more and more complex by adding things like moving platforms or the ability to rotate the stage, but from start to finish the core gameplay is fiendishly clever and often takes lateral thinking, as well as a bit of platforming dexterity. It's also important to note that you can re-use switches, which is hugely helpful when dealing with asymmetric switches. It also means you can easily correct minor mistakes and aren't beholden to hitting each switch in a specific order.
The only additional challenge in each level is completing the stage without dying or retrying, which will earn you a star. Collect enough stars and you'll unlock additional levels. Unfortunately that's pretty much it when it comes to additional frills in Deleveled, and earning stars sometimes feel like more of an exercise in tedium than real challenge since one false move will render your attempt wasted. You also won't be able to rely on any hints to help you progress, though you can play levels somewhat out of order if you find yourself completely stumped by one. The game feels a bit bare-boned, but then again a puzzle game like this doesn't need many extra features.

The game's presentation is also extremely simple, which suits the puzzle gameplay but can't help but leave something to be desired. The totally basic visuals do ensure that the squares' movements on screen are always perfectly clear, but it still would have been nice to have something with a little more personality. The music is also a bit too bland, though again it's not surprising since the focus here is on puzzle-solving.

Deleveled puts its core concept to excellent use across over one hundred challenging puzzle stages. The simple premise easily unfolds into a wide variety of inventive puzzles, and even once you have the basics down the game will surprise you with new twists that will have you pulling your hair out. A bit more on the presentation front might have rounded out the experience better, but puzzle fans should enjoy the clever challenges that Deleveled offers.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Delevels
Review copy provided by publisher
Deleveled will be available on the Switch eShop on September 10 for $9.99.
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