What a treat to stumble on a gem like Transiruby right at the end of the year. It’s worth any number of wasted mornings playing something that seemed like it had potential but then fell flat, to then delight in a supremely well-made, entertaining, and cheerful game like this.
Transiruby is, honestly, in many ways a boilerplate pixel Metroidvania. Yet, it’s so absolutely beautifully delivered that it transcends the archetype. It’s a game that really wants to be played and enjoyed.
You play as Siruby, a cyborg who finds herself transported to an unknown land that seems to have appeared from a parallel dimension. As they so often do. She’s accompanied by AI Ne-com (whom I keep accidentally reading as “Neo-con” – he isn’t), who monitors the action and updates you about the various creatures you encounter. I think you’re trying to get home, but the plot isn’t the point here.
Things follow a fairly expected pattern, at first. You start with a sword, and can chop enemies without much trouble. (This isn’t Hollow Knight, combat is not the focus.) Quickly you receive a gun that allows you to freeze enemies in place, and then either chop them for a 30% chance of a healing drop, or use them as a platform. This ability to improvise platforms to move around levels isn’t original, but it’s superbly implemented, and a real highlight of the game.
The timing of its ability deliveries is really impressive. I was jonesing for a double-jump, and it held off and held off just long enough, and then when it arrived I was just delighted. Other elements creep up as you’d expect – health, freezing ammo, sword efficacy – but the real novelties are when you find you can shift Siruby’s form. First of all, into a motorbike!
Across four separate realms, each absolutely enormous, you explore for diamond pick-ups, missing weird orb-creatures, alongside new abilities, all the while solving little puzzles, finding new pathways opening up in older areas, and pulling at threads in that best Metroidvania way.
What makes this feel very special, alongside lovely art, chipper tunes, and crucially, absolutely perfect movement, is that it’s approachable. This is a genre that far too often reaches for the extremes of difficulty, rendering them a willy-waving contest for the “elite”, while inaccessible to the majority. Those games exist plentifully, and such players are very well catered for, so it’s a special pleasure to have a game this well put together be intended for everyone else.
There are boss fights, but they’re not difficulty spikes. There are some trickier moments, but they’re achievable within a couple of tries, rather than requiring fighter pilot reflexes. Death is barely penalized, with regular checkpoints meaning there’s never a sense of setback. In fact, death is sometimes the quickest route to getting your health and ammo back! Clutch your pearls, git-gudders.
A bright, cheerful, superbly well-made platformer designed for everyone to enjoy?! Have we, too, fallen through a portal into another universe? In fact, this is the continuing work of Skipmore, a Japanese developer which has previously given us, amongst others, Kamiko, 1-Bit Rogue, and Synopsis Quest. Transiruby is their finest yet. It’s out on Steam now, and due on Switch next year.