PC/Mac/Linux
boxart
Game Info:

Spheria
Developed By: Daydream Software
Published By: Black Shell Games
Released: April 1, 2016
Available On: Nothing (formerly Windows)
Genre: Arcade
Number of Players: 1
Price: N/A

Thanks to Black Shell Games for the review code!

As video gaming continues its forceful push into the digital realm, one big flaw has begun to rear its ugly head. In the past, games came on physical media exclusively, and thus will always exist barring an intentionally targeted destruction (see: Too Human). A working Commodore 64 will still play working Commodore 64 games, no matter how rare they are nowadays. As games become a purely online media, however, the risk exists that something will happen, whether accidental or purposeful, to erase a game from existence. This review will cover one of these unfortunate casualties of the digital age: Spheria.

Spheria was a physics-based arcade game wherein you roll a ball through an obstacle course, powering up engines by lingering long enough on their squares in order to unlock the exit. Hampering your progress were varying obstacles, such as conveyor belts, ice tiles, and black smoke that obscured your vision. Each of the game’s levels had two main objectives: beat a time limit for gold, silver, bronze, or no medals; and smash most or all of the stage’s destructible walls; these could, and occasionally had to, be done in separate runs.

With most of your barriers coming from control-altering tiles, it’s a good thing that the game had solid controls. The ball rolls about as well as you’d expect: a little tough to get going and harder to stop, but otherwise responsive to directional changes. You had a choice between three balls: a standard one, a “bug ball” that went significantly faster (and thus was significantly harder to stop), and a wrecking ball that was slow but smashed walls in one hit. Obviously, the bug ball was for putting up quick times and the wrecking ball was for breaking stuff; sadly, the standard ball, with no special abilities or benefits, was mostly useless.

Spheria
Highlights:

Strong Points: Solid physics-based gameplay; very replayable despite limited content; tough but fair
Weak Points: The standard ball is pointless; you can’t fully complete one level due to missing objects; you can’t play this game anymore
Moral Warnings: None

Despite the low number of levels – twenty-six, including the six tutorial ones – Spheria made it last by being quite difficult. Though it seems like a paradox, the ball being hard to control made for a fair challenge: the tiles all acted the same in every level, so you knew what to expect outside of a level’s layout and optimal path. Reaching the gold medal times required quite a few restarts for many stages, but there was always a sense of improvement. In addition, the game encouraged its players to replay each level for better times through an online leaderboard. Later, the developers released “surviviball” mode, which tasked you with beating the twenty main levels in one life, but with infinite boost and free in-level ball switching. The personal progression of skill, along with the at times brutal but always fair difficulty, gave the game more longevity that it seemed at first.

Even so, the game could get old the more you play it. With only a half-dozen or so obstacles, there were limited surprises to change up the gameplay, even your first time through the stages. There was little reason to use anything but the bug ball after you completed the wall smashing task in each level, as neither the standard nor wrecking balls offered much to help you speed through the game. The worst example came from one of the mid-game levels, which had an objective to destroy seven walls – but only five in the stage were breakable, rendering the challenge impossible.

The art style was decent enough, with competent if visually uninteresting graphics. The music consisted of two tracks, neither of which were memorable. In a vacuum, the sound effects did their roles well, but in-game they tended to get repetitive; the conveyor tiles were especially guilty, as they played a constant “wub” noise while you were on them – and some stages were comprised of almost nothing but conveyors. Also, every so often an object would completely vanish from sight after a level restart, only to pop back into existence upon contact. Still, it’s hard to fault any of this, as they all did their basic job of being respectable without being distracting; you were coming for the gameplay, or you weren’t coming at all.

Spheria
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 73%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4.5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The biggest, most egregious flaw, however, is the only one able to be talked about in the present tense: the game doesn’t exist anymore. The news tab on Steam has its final entry in November of 2016, but going to the store page redirects you to Steam’s homepage. There’s barely any information to be found online, either, outside of some basic details on the developer's Spanish website. Whatever the reason, Spheria is gone, and potentially for good.

In the end, the only conclusion to draw on Spheria is one of abject finality: good or bad, the game cannot be played without having bought or been gifted it beforehand. Perhaps in the future, the game will return, either through the developers themselves or by someone grabbing the assets, launching Unity, and recreating it themselves. For now, though, we have no choice to but keep rolling along without it.

Remember to support your local game stores and their physical media, and always ask for the source code of online-only games just in case.

-Cadogan

 

  • No comments found

Like us!

Donate

Please consider supporting our efforts.  Since we're a 501 C3 Non-Profit organization, your donations are tax deductible.

Twitter Feed

divinegames New @humble Positive Bundle 2 - https://t.co/pJneofIzcL (CCG Link). Great games for $10 or less. We have reviews for Rive & Dungeon Souls
4hreplyretweetfavorite
divinegames The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. - Rom 8:19 https://t.co/937jLtwlbf
8hreplyretweetfavorite
divinegames Pleasant dreams everyone! https://t.co/hAHoN8kQUS
19hreplyretweetfavorite
divinegames Updated our finances page (https://t.co/tfncFDXGDU), overall our @patreon and donations are down this month :( https://t.co/DkwfFWezij

Latest Comments

Latest Downloads

About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

S5 Box

JFusion Login Module

Register