|Release Date||May 11, 2021|
Sockventure, developed by Nighthouse Games, is a challenging action platform game inspired by indie titles like Super Meatboy and Celeste. Based on Caillou (just kidding, he’s called the Kid) using his imagination to find his lost socks in the washing machine, players take control of a creature (dubbed Superhero), to jump, wall climb, dash, cling to surfaces, and collect colorful socks just for the sake of it.
This game is clean, despite the amount of dirty socks.
Confession before I review Sockventure: I haven’t finished the game. The very last room is where I’m stuck.
Starting up the game gives players a good idea of what is going on between the Kid and the Superhero. But controlling the Kid proves somewhat questionable. He’s slippery, and he doesn’t jump or feel at all like the Superhero. The intro could have easily been a slide of pictures. This opening run-around time doesn’t happen again.
Once players get control of the creature, it feels great. The creature reacts succinctly to controls, and jumping is reliant upon how long you hold down the button. Players cannot access every special move at the beginning; rather, each new ability is strangely gathered close to the end of each level, and its implementation becomes the next theme.
The difficulty introduces itself early in level one to give the players an idea of what to expect. The saws, spikes, and sharp teeth teach timing and precision so players have that foundation laid before they learn to dash and wall jump. Before long, the levels take solid floors away, leaving only puzzles and no time to stop and think. The only time you have is the second in the air.
Players do have the option in the menu to turn on mid-level checkpoints if starting from the beginning of each room is too much. This option is available from the beginning of the game, and while I kept it off for a while, I admittedly turned it on after a few rooms into the seventh and final chapter.
The setting is straight from a fever dream. The everyday washing machine and dryer are turned into a Pandora’s box of acid, lasers, teeth walls, trap floors, crumbling platforms, teleporters, TNT crates, and lava. The sounds of zipping, smashing, and bouncing don’t distract or add additional frustration. I get a giggle out of hearing his little footsteps, though. The same can be said for the music; it’s pretty low-key and really draws its rhythms and scales from Celeste almost too much. I catch myself wondering if they weren’t the same.
Aside from the bizarre choice of using a kid’s imagination to make a monster washing machine as the setting, the other thing that makes me tilt my head is the “story”. Nighthouse Games chose a middle ground between no story and a whole lot of story. This “just enough” story was given a little too much thought, no pun intended. Something simpler like, “Your favorite sock is in another part of the machine”, followed by the image of a sleepy boy in a clean clothes hamper seems like all it needed. And personally speaking, the face is a little weird.
All else makes Sockventure a decent game. The art and graphics are good; the vivid colors pop on the screen and the background and foreground are well defined, eliminating confusion between obstacle and aesthetic. There are secrets to find, and some additional chapters called Dark Chapters for some extra gameplay. I could easily see the devs adding more down the line. Maybe they can explore the inner machinations of a dishwasher, fridge, microwave, or hot water heater?
The Bottom Line
Sockventure is a solid platform game with a bizarre setting and a worthy challenge, though its gameplay does nothing original.