Marble Mountain Review
Marble Mountain, the new game from LightningRock Studios, is relaxing. With its bouncy synth soundtrack, bright color palette, and levels with just the right amount of challenge, it isn't the frustrating grind of most other arcade style games, but offers more challenge and depth than the average casual game. It's the perfect chillout game, the kind of thing you can do when you just need a break from everything. While not without flaws, it's just a low-key, fun game, and that's really all it needs to be.
Marble Mountain is fairly simple. You guide a marble along mazes, sometimes having to push switches or navigate terrain as you go, occasionally having to solve movement puzzles or navigate around enemies. There are traps and secret passages hidden throughout, and there are optional gold coins to collect for one hundred percent completion. Other than collecting the coins and getting to the end goal, there's not a ton of other things you need to do-- there are, of course, secret marbles to unlock, but overall, it's fairly simple.
And that's all it needs to be. Everything about the game, from the simple controls to the way you're just allowed to explore everywhere, to the soundtrack, is relaxing. Rolling around levels is incredibly satisfying in a way, as it just allows you to slide into a groove for a while as the marble rolls down slopes and around giant gears. It's a game that moves at its own pace, and the dynamic environments allow for that.
But it's not without flaws, and this is where it's a bit of a letdown. The controls for the marble are beyond slippery, making it a chore to navigate some of the more narrow pathways, and even some of the wider ones. The physics are bizarre, too. Sometimes you can use the d-pad to roll up and down a see-saw, for instance, but other times, the same situation will result in you either falling off for no reason, or send you spiraling to your death. It's also unclear exactly how one is to unlock some of the marbles, other than going through the levels. And while the par time not being any particular object helps the game at a lesiurely pace, it's kind of unclear why it's even there at all.
It's also easy on some stages to get trapped with no way out. There are, of course, ways to restart the level if absolutely necessary, but it's annoying having to go back to the beginning of the level. Further confounding things, switches sometimes go back to being unswitched when you fall off the course, but that isn't a consistent thing across the board, which means that you have to go back and check if you still need to make the necessary movements to progress. It's a lot of annoying backtracking sometimes, and it makes replaying certain parts of levels beyond boring.
But...and here's where it's going to get a little difficult to explain-- the flaws don't necessarily matter. They're there, sure, but this isn't the kind of game where you play for six hours to get through the levels and acquire more, more, more. This is the kind of game where you spend your time on a level now and then when you need to unwind. It's casual at its most casual-- no breakneck pace, no white-knuckling, just a pleasant time rolling a marble around.
In the end, that's what matters. It's a game you can relax with. It's a game you can unwind with. It's a game that's comfortable. It's relaxing. Marble Mountain may not be perfect, but it serves all your needs that way, and because of that, the flaws kind of take a backseat to how much fun you can have just rolling from level to level. It's satisfying, and in the end, that matters much more than the flaws do.
Score 3 out of 5
The Reviewer Received a copy of this game for review