All the Game’s a Stage.
Side-scrolling platformers and 2D platformers have always been two names for the same thing. Well, they used to be. A modern game has come out that is a 2D platformer and doesn’t scroll. I must say, the results surprised me.
Talent Not Included is a fantasy platformer that stars 3 real heroes trying their hand as actors in a stage play. Each act of the play stars one of the heroes as they jump from prop-platform to prop-platform. The showrunners, who don’t seem to like these “actors” very much, have implemented numerous hazards including buzz saws, robotic monsters, and cannons, among other things.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
Collecting candy pieces and killing enemies along the way will increase the point multiplier, but getting hit by something will reset it (Points are also earned depending on how fast one completes the level). The candy pieces serve – sometimes – as a way to show where the player should be and other times they fill the stage, and players can only get so many before they disappear.
Platforms and enemies are always cycling in and out, but the game rarely put me in a position where I was instantly hit by something, which is a testament to the design of the game. It also has great visual cues, like the shaking of a platform that’s about to disappear or the rotating of the ground to indicate that it’s becoming hazardous.
While I enjoyed the Act 1 hero the most, each is different enough, with a unique ability and a unique movement/combat style. Through its 45 levels, new wrinkles are consistently added to the levels – adding to the variety – but that didn’t necessarily keep the fun up to where it was in Act 1. There’s nothing bad about the last two-thirds of the game, but maybe its novelty wore off in the slightest.
Bosses are fought multiple times throughout an act, with each encounter being similar, but increasingly faster and more complex. These boss fights are enjoyable, if not a tad too easy, but I suppose they’re that way because avoiding damage is still crucial to getting a good score.
The characters are very sarcastic and lighthearted, but I can’t remember much of what they had to say. What I do remember is that the dialogue was overly reference heavy in regard to video games, with my least favorite example being, (from memory) “My name is Combo Breaker… I have a Killer Instinct”. References are cool sometimes, but the ones in this game felt low on effort.
When I started playing Talent Not Included, I was blown away by its tight controls and stage setting. Towards the end, I was still enjoying it, but my enthusiasm waned considerably compared to where it once was. Still, its unique presentation and complementary design does make for a good time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.