A perplexing and perfectly portable puzzler.
What I love most about puzzle games is the unique challenge it presents to the player. You’re not faced with enemy hoards or intense boss battles; instead, you’re ultimately facing yourself by trying to work through the challenge and discover the solution. This idea augmented in Semispheres, as the puzzle you face is literally split in two, forcing your brain to think in new and interesting ways.
From developer Vivid Helix, Semispheres has the player navigate an orange and blue sphere towards their respective goal areas while avoiding searchlights that will force the spheres to restart their plight if caught. However, the spheres exist in separate “realities,” represented by two split columns on the screen. This means the player must separately control the spheres with the analog sticks while reaching the goals in their separate realities.
Keeping track of both spheres while trying to decipher each level’s puzzle is where the true challenge of this game lies. That’s not to say the spheres are hard to control, but rather you have to rewire your brain to keep track of two different but bound together puzzles in order to unravel the solutions of each reality. This s further complicated by abilities each of the game’s 13 sets of levels introduces for the spheres to utilize. These abilities start out simple, with alarms that will take the searchlights’ attention away from the spheres, and then get much more complex with portals allowing the spheres to teleport back and forth between realities.
While solving these puzzles, the player is treated to simple complementary visuals reflective of the blue and orange spheres, and nice ambient tunes that never impede on your puzzle solving.
There’s also a narrative about a boy who befriends a robot, told through illustrations unlocked after completing a set of levels. It’s a cute and simple story that’s supplementary to the puzzles, so it’s a welcome addition.
The biggest detriment to Semispheres is it’s brevity and simplicity. The puzzles are overall pretty challenging, but it shouldn’t take you too long to get through them all. This works against the core simple mechanic of the game. While the dual realities is distinct and well implemented throughout, there’s just not a lot of content or variation.
That being said, Semispheres is still a thoroughly enjoyable and testing brainteaser puzzle game fans should seek out. Plus, we reviewed the title on PS Vita, the perfect platform for the game as the portability excellently compliments the quick yet tricky levels.
Semispheres is available for PS Vita, PS4, Steam, and the Nintendo Switch.