There’s a steady surge of 2D platformer games hitting Xbox One as of late, many of which have fell by the wayside due to lack of innovation and bland gameplay. Little Triangle attempts to outshine recent additions to the genre, but doesn’t quite manage to go that extra length to rub shoulders with the best. It’s a valiant effort by Shanghai developer, Dreamoji, but some small flaws ultimately drags this game just shy of greatness. Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s take it from the top. There’s very little story to go on. The game starts out with a brief television broadcast that showcases an alien invasion, and before you can blink, you’re thrown into the first level.
This level serves as a quick tutorial to feed you into the basics of play. Jump over this obstacle, double jump to a high platform, jump on an enemies head, and so on and so forth. There’s very little that the player needs to keep on top of, which proves to be a blessing and a curse. Each level houses several optional requirements that will collectively go towards unlocking a three star rank. Players are tasked with collecting diamonds and saving hostages throughout the course of each stage, many of which are tucked away in hidden areas, which is another requirement to work for. Oddly enough, some hidden areas are uncovered through mandatory routes, which makes for some baffling moments.
There’s a total of three worlds to play through, each dishing up their own unique levels, boss encounters, and mini games. You can indeed play the game via two difficulty settings, being Casual and Hardcore. Casual is certainly the best way to go for those that are not super-skilled enough to survive on Hardcore’s tough rule set. In Casual mode, protagonist Little Triangle will have a total of three lives, to which one will deplete if hurt. When all three lives are spent up and you take another hit, you’ll be sent back to one of the many generously placed checkpoints dotted about each level. Hardcore mode on the other hand, is much stricter. Here you will only have one single life to scale the entire level with.
What makes Hardcore especially tough isn’t so much the level structure, but the controls and the framerate. This is a game that requires a great deal of accuracy. Players will need to finely land on narrow platforms, bob and weave between tightly packed guillotine, and heaps of other deadly contraptions. It’s frustrating, however, that controlling Little Triangle’s landing following a jump, just doesn’t feel as precise as it should. There’s an ever so slight float to the controls whilst jumping, that makes tougher sections less enjoyable and more irritating. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the game will occasionally drop in framerate momentarily, which tends to only happen when there’s a lot of action on-screen. I would be willing to be more forgiving if it wasn’t for the fact that this cost a number of flawless runs. Hopefully the developer can address this sooner than later.
The difficulty curve is well set. The first world, Factory, gives you just enough breathing room for error, despite still being quite challenging to obtain high ranks. World two, Temple, and world three, Jungle, are much harder to overcome. One of Little Triangle’s most alluring aspects is that it never becomes repetitive, thanks to the breath of fresh air that each and every level presents. Regardless of the few annoyances, stepping into new levels constantly brought interesting and exciting platforming. I have to hand it to Dreamoji, they’ve done an excellent job as far as diverse level structure is concerned. The theme of each world remains the same throughout its many levels, but Dreamoji’s clever implementation of new mechanics and obstacles helps to keep the each stage unique.
The aim of the game is to make it from the beginning of the level to the end. Timing is key, as you’ll carefully need to outsmart the several enemy variations and dodge their many attacks. Many of these enemies can be avoided so long as you can bypass them, but there’s usually one or two larger foes that will need to be taken care of before further progression can be made. The boss encounters are also varied, but often require the tried and tested formula of outrunning them or pouncing on their head several times. Little Triangle doesn’t come with any attack power, meaning your only means of defense is evasion and, once again, head bopping. While this method works for the most part, there were a handful of times that I bit the proverbial bullet for no good reason, such as unavoidable incoming attacks and at times, poor enemy placement.
As aforementioned, Little Triangle’s levels features select collectibles. Saving hostages will unlock new cosmetic skins that you can equip to your character, whereas diamonds will unlock secret levels. You can also locate a few arcade machines within some levels, which will unlock a new mini game via the world map. Secret levels are by far (outside of Hardcore mode) the most challenging levels on offer. The structure tends to remain the same, but the theme and execution is far removed. The first secret level, for example, takes place in a Chinese themed environment, complete with floating lanterns, bamboo huts, and other notable objects and buildings. Having to collect over 60 diamonds while bouncing on lanterns hovering above death-spikes, at the same time as being shot by a floating sun, is no walk in the park let me tell you. Furthermore, that’s arguably one of the easiest sections of the level.
Little Triangle comes with co-op support, which is neat addition that I suspect many will be pulled to. It hardly changes the elements of play, but it’s great to see this included nevertheless. If you fancy something more competitive, the game offers a Battle mode that tasks up to four players with killing each other. Weaponry can be picked up to make this mode more exciting, but it barely stands quite as firm as the campaign. Visually the game is a treat to observe. There’s a cartoon vibe that’s well designed and quite diverse throughout. The level of detail and care to attention is excellent, with clever meta-nods splattered all over the place. It can be a bit dark at times, such as seeing piles of triangle corpses tucked away in the corner, but the overall presentation hits all the right marks. This comes tied to a mellow soundtrack that really helps to set the mood, if at times irritating.
Little Triangle certainly delivers a challenging and endearing platformer, but small flaws pull the game just shy of greatness. The gameplay structure and visual presentation is top notch, however, the occasional framerate drops and the somewhat imprecise controls, slightly hinder the overall experience. With that to the side, there’s still no denying that Little Triangle is an adventure that’s worth your time and attention.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.