Disclosure: A preview copy of Spoiler Alert was provided for us to review. The game and experience may change before the final version is released. At the time of publication, the game was not available to the public. Opinions of the game have not been influenced by any outside party or the developer.
It’s hard to think of a more classic form of gaming than the platformer. Spoiler Alert attempts to put a fresh spin on the medium, billing itself as “a comedy platform you play backwards”…literally. Starting at the final stage of the last world, the Chili Pepper Knight moves backwards from right to left throughout the levels. The player must avoid obstacles and creating a time paradox by uncollecting coins, undefeating villains, and catching projectiles. While this is definitely a fun concept, Spoiler Alert’s execution fails to live up to the hype.
I played the Steam version of the game, which is slated to include a number of exclusives with its official release, including concept art and screensavers, a copy of the soundtrack, and a level editor through Steam workshop. These goodies might be appealing for an AAA release, but for a glorified mobile game, they just don’t seem to offer any extra value. Not to mention that the soundtrack was rather grating and repetitive — I hardly wanted to listen to it in game, let alone on its own.
The gameplay mechanics were deceptively simple, consisting mostly of the up arrow to jump and an action button. Chili Pepper Knight moves automatically across the screen, so levels quickly devolve into executing jumps with just the right timing, rather than planning or skill. As the levels get harder, these actions start to form chain reactions — so miss one jump and you have no chance for recovery before you’ve created a time paradox and you’re booted back to the beginning of the level. For the most part, it was challenging without being obnoxious, but at times inspired almost Super Meat Boy levels of frustration. Because you’re moving backwards, each world starts with a boss fight. Instead of the exciting climax of the end of a level, these turned out to be one of the most boring parts of the game. Turns out bopping a boss back to life just doesn’t have the same thrill as a crushing defeat.
Since I was playing a preview copy, the story wasn’t completed, but it had a promising start, and could slightly compensate for the lack of engaging gameplay. Plus, I really want to know why the heck I’m playing as a chili pepper with a bucket on his head. However, I couldn’t help but start to draw comparisons between Spoiler Alert and Braid, an independent platform from 2008 with a similar concept and absolutely breathtaking visuals and soundtrack, and much more involved mechanics that relied on problem solving skills rather than split-second timing. While Spoiler Alert may evolve into an amusing time killer once the storyline is finished, I can’t see it engaging me as much as the concept promised.
Check out the gameplay trailer here: