Splasher is a 2D platformer that throws you into the role of a young hero that finds himself desperately trying to escape the clutches of his evil employer, Inkcorp. Inkcorp are up to all sorts of dreadful things and as soon as our protagonist becomes privy to them, he decides to ditch life at the factory, make a run for it and save as many of his co-workers as he possibly can. In a roundabout way it almost channels that Oddworld vibe as far as the story is concerned, and although the plot is hardly the strong-suit of the experience at hand, Splasher offers a fun yet short adventure for those that invest in the game.
Armed with a splatter cannon, the aim of the game is to make your way through each stage and rescue up to seven splasher workers before you reach the end. Much like many of the recent Rayman games, six out of the seven splasher workers are caged and can be located throughout each level or via small challenge rooms that are hidden in each level. The seventh and final splasher worker can be saved by collecting a set amount of golden drops which can be earned throughout each level. Splasher dishes up over 20 levels that are each full to the brim with death defying traps, several enemies and heaps of environmental hazards. Safe to say that this game, although not at first, is a pretty tough adventure that will test you to your limit.
The comparison to Rayman is made all the more apparent by some of the levels being titled after it, and when you group this with the fact that Splasher comes from Romain Claude, who served as Game Designer and Level Designer at Ubisoft for Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, it’s easy to spot the similarity. The actual platforming however is in a league of its own and is fresh enough to stand out as unique. Your splatter cannon can be used to manipulate your surroundings by painting different colours, with each colour housing its own property and functionality. Yellow paint for example is massively bouncy which enables you to reach new heights, whereas red paint is super sticky and will enable you to walk on walls, and then there’s water which allows you to clean up your mess.
On top of saving all of your co-workers, you can also work towards beating the game in a set time to obtain platinum, gold, silver or bronze status. This feature caters for those that enjoy speedrunning titles like this, whilst the core game offers a solid difficulty curve (to begin with) ensuring that Splasher remains accessible to genre newcomers. That being said the game certainly takes it up a notch or ten when you get further in and I found it to be too hard in the latter stages of play, so much so that fun swiftly traded itself for frustration. That’s a minor complaint to make but I would be remiss if I didn’t point it out. It doesn’t help that the jumping can be somewhat inconsistent at times and when you’re forced to use the analog over the traditional nature of the D-Pad, it doesn’t marry well with some of the harsh level designs late in the game.
Splasher does well at making sure that you’re always tasked with overcoming new obstacles and fresh environmental hazards ranging from guillotine, lasers, acid and just about anything else that you would expect to see from a platformer of this type. It helps that the game controls exceptional well outside of the aforementioned issues, and the amount of colour on-screen at any given time dishes up some wonderful visuals throughout. The added layers of replay value on top of the core experience will gift you with several hours worth of gameplay, which justifies the lenient price tag of £11.99 / $14.99, especially for those that enjoy the formula. Splasher may indeed take inspiration from other (better) titles, but it does so in such a way that it manages to hold its own in the face of an already over-saturated genre.
Splasher is a solid platforming adventure that manages to stand its own ground despite taking inspiration from one of the most iconic platformer games of all time. It’s colourful, challenging, unique and offers up a great deal of replay value thanks to the additional objectives that have been thrown in for those that fancy themselves that extra task. The jumping can be off at times and the difficulty certainly takes it up to a frustrating notch in the latter stages of play, but when all is said and done, Splasher is everything it sets out to achieve. If you enjoy a good platformer with interesting mechanics and lush colourful visuals, this is for you.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.