Alien Pixel Studios’ newest game is Unbound: Worlds Apart, an adventure that follows a young mage who can open portals between realities. These portals serve as the crux of the game’s primary gameplay mechanic, which players will need to use heavily on their quest to stop an evil, all-powerful force.
A reality check
In Unbound: Worlds Apart, players take on the role of Soli, a young mage with the magical ability to open portals in reality. An evil force is tearing through realities, wreaking an ultimate havoc that Soli will need to go on a dangerous adventure in order to stop.
Set in a fantasy world, the story in Unbound: Worlds Apart is a bit shallow. Outside of Soli, a lot of the characters blended together, and the supremely-evil force looking to destroy the world is fairly standard. That said, it’s par for the course in the genre, and is mainly the vehicle driving the gameplay forward.
A peek between dimensions
Soli’s powers allow him to open up portals in reality. It’s this ability that serves as the key mechanic to Unbound’s platforming and puzzles. The portals can manipulate time, invert gravity, and alter the player’s strength. The portals offer so many different ways to experience Unbound, creating platforming moments like I’ve never experienced before.
There’s 10 different types of portals in Unbound: Worlds Apart, with new areas introducing the player to new portal types. I particularly liked the portals that created and removed platforms, as well as the ones that turned hostile enemies into inanimate objects. The gravity portals were exceptional as well, as they forced me to react quickly and recognize patterns, like when I was forced to quickly open and close portals in order to cross a hazard without being killed.
Although there aren’t proper checkpoints, Unbound saves your progress after practically every obstacle and enemy you get past. Since the game is constantly introducing new mechanics and challenges, I appreciated that it wasn’t harshly punishing after every death. The game also does an excellent job at illustrating the areas you have and haven’t explored using the in-game map. There’s a decent amount of backtracking required in some levels, and the map layout made it easy to retrace my steps whenever necessary.
Two gorgeous lands
The art in Unbound: Worlds Apart is hand drawn, and the team has created some uniquely beautiful creatures and environments. What’s really cool is that there’s practically two visual versions of the entire game, as opening up portals gives a glimpse into an alternate, often hellish version of the surrounding area. I loved seeing the jagged, distorted version of the environment, so I found myself creating portals all the time, even when there was no present obstacle or puzzle.
I also quite enjoyed the music in Unbound: Worlds Apart. It’s peaceful and serene at times, and then quickly becomes upbeat and intense. It helps to reinforce the concepts of duality present in Unbound’s story and gameplay.
Sides of a coin
Unbound: Worlds Apart is a refreshingly original platformer, as its portal mechanic makes for some genuinely creative and challenging puzzles. The platforming is also bolstered by this same portal mechanic. The game is also quite gorgeous, thanks to its hand drawn art style. The way that the portals reveal another side of the world worked to make exploring that much more exciting. Alien Pixel Studios’ Unbound: Worlds Apart is an impressive outing from the indie developer and one of my favorites of the year so far.
This review is based on a digital Steam code provided by the publisher. Unbound: Worlds Apart is available now on PC and Switch for $19.99 USD.
Unbound: Worlds Apart
- Creative puzzles thanks to portals mechanic
- Platforming is challenging and inventive
- Gorgeous hand drawn art
- Story is generic
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Unbound: Worlds Apart review: You get the best of both