- Total Score - 8/108/10
Overall, Tumbleseed offers a ton of content for it’s asking price. It is a fun, challenging and rewarding roguelike that is best played in short bursts and is fun to come back to.
Release Date – May 2nd, 2017
Platforms- Switch, PS4, PC (Reviewed on Switch)
Developers – Benedict, Greg, Joel, David, & Jenna
Publisher – aeiowu
Genre – Action/Adventure Roguelike
Price – $14.99
To put it simply, Tumbleseed is hard. So hard, that I had to put it down a few times just out of sheer frustration. That made it all the more rewarding when I came back to it later and made some progress.
Tumbleseed is a game in which you attempt to balance a seed up a mountain, except you don’t directly control that seed. To climb, you must tilt the rolling seed back and forth by moving a horizontal bar upwards using the analogue sticks. It proves extremely tricky and requires a ton of practice to fully master. To make things worse, you have a variety of obstacles preventing you from making your way to the top of the mountain. From holes that are scattered all over the place and enemies that all have different attack styles and movements, you will find that you are dying over and over again. This is also coupled with the fact that the game world is procedurally generated, so you can get some really rough situations with some bad luck. This game will force you take things slow and put in some practice to actually get good. I’ve put in a decent amount of time and I can still say that I am pretty bad, although the rewarding feeling of passing a hellish section is great.
As you continue your journey to the mountain top, you will begin to unlock new seed powers. There are over 30 of these powers, although I have yet to collect them all. Some of these help you actually combat enemies, although I found that I was better off avoiding those abilities and just dodging enemies as I advanced. The default ability allows you to plant flags as checkpoints, which I found to be more useful than any of the other ones I unlocked along the way, although for players who master this game I could see some of the unlocked skills being very useful. Tumbleseed also features daily challenges and leaderboards to prove how good (or bad) you are to your friends or the world, a nice addition to an already immensely replayable game.
Since this review is based on the Switch version, I have to give praise to the developers use of the HD Rumble feature. This is the first traditional game I have played on the console that offers a rumble that actually enhances the gameplay experience. You can actually feel the seed rolling back and forth on the horizontal bar, it’s hard to explain and words don’t do it justice, but once you experience it you will see some extreme potential for the HD rumble feature. It’s impressed me in the ball count game in 1-2 Switch but actually feeling it in a game like this gives me so much hope for the future of the feature. Another thing is that I enjoy playing this game much more in handheld mode than on the TV, and the portability aspect is perfect for a game that you may only spend a short session in like this one. Visuals pop and are beautiful on both handheld and docked mode and you don’t feel any compromise between the two. I would say the Switch version is the definitive edition if only for the HD rumble and portability aspects.
Overall, Tumbleseed offers a ton of content for it’s asking price. It is a fun, challenging and rewarding roguelike that is best played in short bursts and is fun to come back to. My only gripe is that it may turn some players off if they don’t feel like putting the time or effort at getting good. If the developers patched in a difficulty setting for more casual players I think this could be a big hit. It is a great experience that can be taken with you on the go, and is one of the first indie titles that truly makes unique use of the Switch’s HD rumble feature. For a team of 5 people, they have certainly impressed with a pretty remarkable experience.