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Game Info:

Astral Traveler
Developed By: Dragon Slumber, Brainoid
Published By: Dragon Slumber
Released: Sep 13, 2017
Available On: Windows, macOS, Linux
Genre: Runner
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $5

Thanks Dragon Slumber for the Steam key for review!

Astral Traveler is a third-person runner that is surprisingly challenging for a veteran of the genre and has an unfortunate lack of polish and good game feel. I enjoyed my time with the game, but it has some scathing issues that would take a lot of work to fix.

In Astral Traveler there are 5 different zones that have about 10 levels each. The zone variety is strong, with each one bringing new mechanics. The first one functions as a tutorial of sorts (although the game is lacking a legitimate tutorial) with simple paths and not very complex terrain. The third area has light panels that you need to stay on and don’t appear until you’re close to them, making that zone trial and error to a fault. There seems to only be one enemy type which is disappointing. Each ‘track’ introduced new challenges and they all felt different. I never found the game to feel repetitive, even when retrying a level multiple times.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Addicting, challenging gameplay; online leaderboards; can race your best time’s ghost
Weak Points: Severe lack of polish; ugly; UI issues
Moral Warnings: Killing alien bugs (no blood); Spaceship explodes on crash; environments are occultish with portals and alien fictional worlds

The core gameplay loop of Astral Traveler is very simple. Get from wormhole to wormhole. In between these wormholes are complex and difficult tracks that you need to maneuver around. There will be several traps in your way, including rocks and lava pits. There are blue orbs scattered across each track that you can either shoot at to regain health or press the ‘phase’ button near them to gain a speed boost. Astral Traveler’s replay-ability is geared towards beating a level as fast as possible, including online leaderboards and the ability to race your best’s ghost.

The game is very difficult. It requires some very precise movement and quick reflexes to even complete a track. It doesn’t help that the overall game feel and polish of Astral Traveler is borderline terrible. Pressing the phase button near a blue orb feels inconsistent. The movement itself feels inaccurate. You can only shoot at enemies when on the same angle as them, and it feels wrong to set up. Shooting as a whole feels terrible. In a world where Astral Traveler is polished and feels great, I would wholeheartedly recommend, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

There’s a chance my enjoyment of Astral Traveler was not due to the game itself being mechanically solid, but the strive for a better run at a level. The online leaderboards and my own ghost gave me high incentive to repeat a level dozens of times trying to get an attempt with no mistakes.

 

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

Game Score - 44%
Gameplay - 9/20
Graphics - 3/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 87%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The art looks like a poor attempt at PS1 era graphics, hindering the gameplay itself. There were several times where I couldn’t tell what was coming up in front of me because of the low resolution. The music is low quality but never got too annoying. Controls can be completely rebound, but fall flat in feeling for reasons I previously mentioned. I came across numerous UI issues. Buttons would remain highlighted and I had to use my mouse to use the menus, despite technically full controller support. The game never crashed and there were never bugs within the levels themselves.

Minor occult references are within the level environments: You’re always in some weird alien worlds and each level begins and ends with portals. Due to the name of the game, it’s safe to assume you’re traveling through astral planes. You kill a lot of bug-like creatures with a laser gun and no blood is shown. On death, your ship explodes but there doesn’t seem to be anyone inside.

Astral Traveler is a flawed game that has some serious potential. The level design is interesting and varied, and the gameplay mechanics are good concepts for the most part. The game's lack of polish ultimately takes what could be something incredible and runs it into the ground. Even at the low entry fee, I’m not entirely sure I can recommend this game.

About the Author

Evan

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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.

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