[Silver Award] Cythera By Troyio - Independent Review

Review by spinachie on Sunday, March 17th 2013
Click to play Cythera

Cythera is a game created by troyio

Until quite recently, Troyio was quite an unknown developer amongst our niche community. However, when the arcade creator was released, he beavered away on arguably the finest arcade game at the time, Forestaria. It was everything you wanted, a balance of fun and challenge, a beautiful aesthetic and great music choice. To me, it was the game that set the formula for all arcade games to come.

That was my thought, until Cythera hit the scene. Viewed as a spiritual successor to Forestaria I, Cythera made its predecessor seem like the prototype it was. By introducing cinematic effects, and use of the new biomes feature in its beautiful aesthetics, Cythera has become the second revolution of arcade games on the site. But just how does it level up to Forestaria, or all the other arcade titles for that matter?

One of the two main features of Cythera is the new aesthetic design. Flower switches are used to create emphasis on certain areas, as well as showing the player the arcade creator’s cinematic side. The game’s artistic charm doesn’t stop there either, as combinations of items and terrain are used masterfully to inject streaks of eye-candy into the enjoyable gameplay. These elements are innovative, satisfying, and not to mention, exceedingly crisp and aesthetically pleasing.

Looking over at the mechanical side of Cythera, Troyio takes a different approach to puzzle implementation in his production. He takes a mixture of tried and tested puzzles and a fresh batch of new concepts, and blends them with the artistic style we have talked about. While this method has been tried and failed before, Troyio just about managed to pull it off, leaving us with a challenging and succulent puzzle experience and one that should inspire other developers to reach for the stars with their puzzles.

Because of this focus on puzzles, however, not enough effort was placed in balancing challenge with enjoyability, an important factor in most of sploder’s revolutionary games. Though the solutions to these puzzles are often times brilliant, frustration can take its toll quickly. This is especially true in the lava levels, where the combination of oil and short platforms isn’t the best of gamer friendly level design. Topped by the fact that despite the player’s relentless efforts and time spent chiseling away at the game, there is frequently little or no payoff, and this can become really insulting for the average gamer.

The attention to detail in the game is also lacking in many points of the experience. Considering that the plot is supposedly set in the times of the ancient Greeks, would it not make sense to name our hero something other than Jericho? Besides, where are all the temples, the grand structures that Greeks were known for? Understandably, the decorative properties of the engine are extremely limited, but Troyio could have placed some of the puzzles in inhabited areas. Or perhaps the plot could have explained why you were adventuring through the wilderness, and if it does, maybe say it a bit more clearly. Either way, regarding the detail and accuracy in the world, several important design choices are overlooked in favor of puzzles and aesthetics.

Yet, there is one small merit in that lack of accuracy. The new and widely varied environments provide the creator a chance to throw something at you with every level. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a plot point or a fresh, deliciously new puzzle mechanic; the game never grows stagnant once you overcome the difficulty spikes. The world is ever expanding with new characters and lands to explore, and it’s everything you could ask for in such an imagination provoking title.

The plot itself, however, isn’t the most engaging or relatable of yarns. The use of certain objects or characters grows monotonous. Using self-discovery is a clichéd method of delivering a character’s point of view, and is difficult to pull off without making your typical B-movie plotline. Unfortunately, it is easy to see through the carelessness of the story's implementation. The combination of gameplay and decoration didn't need a plot, and story could have been put across purely through the use of the mechanics, and quite effectively as well.

The Verdict:

I have my doubts about this game, but overall, Cythera is an arcade experience that one must not miss. It perfectly combines crisp, tasty visuals with challenging puzzles to create a brilliant game that is recommended to all. The new benchmark for arcade games.

The Verdict

An enjoyable, good-looking game that sets the benchmark for arcade games.

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