Have you ever been in a position where you were at a loss with regard to what game you should play next, and you decide to let the name of a certain game act as the tractor beam that sucks you in. I’m one of those pretentious gamers that are damn near impossible to impress, which is what makes me a pretty competent reviewer.
But equally, it makes me someone that will wait until weeks after release and read tens of indie reviews before I break out my wallet and invest in an unknown entity. That’s the usual process, but I do have a chink in my armor, and that’s primarily reserved for cute games with silly names. For some reason, I’m mindlessly attracted to them like prominent celebrities are to Pete Davidson. It’s an inevitability.
When I think back through all the dross I picked up merely because they sounded fun, I’m reminded of my body count of horror purchases, including the likes of Kill It With Fire, Spartan Fist, or My Name is Mayo. The kind of games you can’t help checking out, but instantly regret your decision. But I’ll be damned if I don’t get my money’s worth, so I reluctantly push on regardless.
Well, that’s the exact reason that I find myself in that predicament again, reviewing an absurdly named title called Velocity Noodle. A game that aims to be a blend of hyper-accurate platformers like Super Meat Boy and Celeste, but instead, just manages to be a hot mess.
However, you may be just like me, pressing yourself up against the metaphorical glass with cash in hand, questioning if Velocity Noodle is the game for you. Well, I aim to warn you off this title as best I can, breaking down why this platformer fails to deliver even a credible recreation of existing platformers of this ilk. Without further ado, here is IGC’s Velocity Noodle review, conducted on PS5.
I’ve Been Cyber-Punked
Let’s begin with the overall presentation, an area I don’t put too much stock into when it comes to platformers, but nonetheless, the game can’t exist without a bunch of shapes and colors, can it? I can boil it down to one word here. Generic. There is next to nothing that sets this game apart from any other pixel platformer.
The game opts for a cyberpunk theme, and I suppose, it does pull it off reasonably well. You have the sea of neon, the dark, gritty backdrops, and everything in between. The problem is that it just feels so cookie-cutter. It’s as if I showed someone five minutes of Bladerunner and said, now do a cyberpunk game.
The same can be said of the soundtrack for this game, if you’re generous enough to label it a soundtrack. It’s just a handful of generic, looping synthwave tunes. Again, it serves its purpose of not having the player hop, bounce, and dash in complete silence, but it’s very underwhelming. In short, it’s a game that mirrored my approach to group school projects. Do the bare minimum, keep your head down, and just barely scrape by.
Too Cool For School
So the game stands out visually about as much as Waldo at a stripy red shirt convention. So then you have to turn to the writing, and to their credit, they did try to make this aspect of the game at least a little more distinct. The problem is how they went about doing that. To offer some clarity, Velocity Noodle’s entire narrative hinges on your player character delivering noodles in a cyberpunk dystopia.
Kind of like runners in Mirror’s Edge without the world-building or intrigue. Due to this flimsy plot, the only option was to shoot for silly rather than profound, but instead, the writers went for an obnoxiously dismissive, intentionally lazy style that misses the mark more times than it lands.
It’s hard to write a sardonic character, because they toe the line between humorous and genuinely unlikable at all times, and instead of mirroring the likes of Tony Stark or Dr. House, we get a main character that is more like Angelica from Rugrats, or Rory Gilmore in her later seasons. That’s right, I was a 90’s kid; how did you guess?
My opinions on decades-old characters aside, Velocity Noodle’s threadbare story somehow managed to lessen my motivation to push forward and cheapened the experience, and for a platformer that lives and dies on its gameplay, that takes some doing.
30-Minutes Or Less
I’ve titled this section 30 minutes or less, because that’s usually a takeout restaurant’s delivery policy, and that’s likely how long you’ll play before you have the urge to take a particularly crispy noodle and use it like piano wire to end it all. A bit dramatic? Perhaps, but really, the gameplay on offer here is pretty bad.
As mentioned, Velocity Noodle aims to offer gameplay that pays homage to hyper-accurate pixel platformers like Celeste and Super Meat Boy. It has a series of mechanics that you’ll need to chain with precision to succeed, it places a litany of harmful obstacles in your path, and it even caps off chapters with a chase section.
It all sounds pretty good on paper, but here’s the deal. Almost all the mechanics aren’t fine-tuned, leading to deeply inconsistent and unsatisfying movement and platforming. This would be fine if there was even the slightest room for error, but the game is relentlessly difficult, with minuscule platforms, bounce pads, and safe zones.
I can hear the ‘Git Gud’ squad crying out, but here’s the thing. I beat Celeste in a little over an hour on my second playthrough, I cleared every stage in Super Meat Boy, and I was pretty handy at the modern Crash Bandicoot remakes too. In short, I know what makes a good, challenging platformer, and dare I say, I’m pretty proficient at them.
With that in mind, I say with some clarity that Velocity Noodle actively works against the player, not through harsh but fair gameplay, but through incompetence. The dash mechanic only works horizontally, the sword teleport cooldown sometimes just doesn’t replenish, the slide mechanic only works if you have momentum, and, oh dear god, the chases.
The enemies rubber band to your position, often hovering over you when the only way is up, ensuring you die through no fault of your own, making each run more of an RNG potluck than a test of skill.
When I played hard, but competent platformers in the past, or indeed any hard but rewarding game, when I died, I knew I made the mistake, I learned from it, and I tried again. Then equally, when I succeeded, I felt like I had triumphed through hard work and determination.
Sadly, Velocity Noodle feels like an act of attrition, where you repeatedly beat your head against a brick wall until it caves in. It’s a brutally unenjoyable experience where your deaths feel like you have been cheated, and your successes are acts of mercy, with the only solace being that it’s finally over.
Noodles For Some, Not All
I also want to take some time to condemn this game for its short-sightedness when thinking of the wealth of players that could play this game. The game markets itself as a game built for speedrunners, where going fast is the name of the game. Believe me, when I say, I love that concept.
I adored Neon White, Ghostrunner, and many more titles of this nature. However, one thing those games did was make the experience accessible for all players. Where simply finishing the stage was enough, and if you couldn’t do it, there were easier paths to success.
Well, Velocity Noodle essentially sticks a big middle finger up to all those without supremely refined twitch reactions and says, oh well, guess you can’t play then. The game has no difficulty settings, no settings that make platforming more lenient, and each level is set up so that it can only really be cleared if you have a near-perfect run to the finish.
I would say that it’s a shame that more people can’t truly experience all that Velocity Noodle has to offer, but that would be like saying it’s a shame that people can’t see The Spice Girls live in concert anymore. Sometimes these blockades are gifts in disguise.
If you, like me, were aggrieved by the sheer lack of quality on show here, then I have done you a solid by listing some games that share the same spirit as Vecolcity Noodle, but actually deliver:
- Super Meat Boy
- Mirror’s Edge
- Neon White
Question: Who Makes Velocity Noodle?
Answer: Velocity Noodle was made by a developer called Shotgun Anaconda, and was first released on PC in January 2021.
Question: What Platforms Can I Play Velocity Noodle On?
Answer: Velocity Noodle has been available on PC since January 2021. However, the game is now set to be available on consoles. These include the PS4/5, Xbox Series X/S and the Nintendo Switch
Question: How Many Levels Are In Velocity Noodle?
Answer: Velocity Noodle has over sixty levels for players to enjoy, with a variety of alternative routes in each to ensure players have the ability to ‘Break the Levels’.
Overall, I have to say that Velocity Noodle misses the mark in almost every department. While a platformer doesn’t need incredible visuals, sound, or a memorable narrative, it sure does help make it more engaging.
Sadly, Velocity Noodle offers generic Cyberpunk assets and visuals, a small selection of looping electronic tracks, and writing that toes the line between sardonic and obnoxious, routinely crossing the line into the latter.
This means the gameplay has to be inch-perfect, but it’s about an inch away from god-awful. There are some redeeming qualities regarding the platforming, with some levels almost bordering on competently designed, and I do respect the developers offering multiple alternative paths to success in each stage.
However, as a collective, the levels and gameplay feel like a hodgepodge of underwhelmingly designed mechanics, with luck playing more of a role in the player’s success than it ever should.
The game also has a distinct lack of accessibility, and feels very unbalanced, to the point that I can’t imagine even the most skilled platform gamer ever getting gold in each delivery. There’s a clear lack of a USP here.
There’s nothing that stands out from the crowd, no mechanics that feel inherently satisfying to use, and even if you find the idea of Celeste on a budget charming, I reckon the reams of inconsistencies and incompetent design choices will see you change your tune pretty quick.
Ironically, it seems like Velocity Noodle could have used more time in the wok. It’s a shame, but that’s what I get for being lured in by whimsy alone. As always, thanks for reading Indie Game Culture!
- Some folks may enjoy the writing at its attempt at sardonic humor
- Some levels which require less precise movement are fun
- The game, while generic, looks and sounds okay
- Generic design, non-distinct synthwave music, and obnoxious writing
- Most mechanics feel inconsistent and unrefined
- No accessibility or difficulty settings
- The overall experience is artificially hard, as opposed to hard, but fair
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