When I was younger I was diagnosed with a fairly rare heart condition. It didn't affect me much on the whole but there were stretches where I'd be trapped in bed for days at a time. This is where my love for roguelikes first bloomed. From Nethack to Spelunky I devoured these complicated sets of systems, hunting for secrets and exploring what felt like endless worlds. Tumbleseed makes me feel this again.
You'd be forgiven for not quite understanding Tumbleseed. After all, it's a roguelike with the main selling point of taking indirect control of a seed. Once you move past the alien control scheme and stop getting distracted by the gorgeous vector art you'll find one of gaming's tensest experiences. Making last second adjustments while your seed is careening toward a pit immediately precedes a sigh of relief or a violent stream of expletives. Tumbleseed --more than anything else-- is a game of micro-adjustments, moving your seed millimeters in either direction just barely skirting the dangers that come from the procedurally placed holes and enemies.
But this doesn't mean that Tumbleseed doesn't work on a larger scale. Each run ends by showing a map of the mountain you're climbing up, with a dotted line highlighting the path you took. It gives a sense of scale to each session and stacks you up against all of your previous runs. I've also been told that you unlock shortcuts at some point in some sort of meta-progression, but I've yet to find them.
I'm still fairly fresh into Tumbleseed, it only came out last week, but I'm still far enough in to feel the wanderlust take hold. I want to know what is coming next. The developer, Aeiowu, says there are 5 worlds to roll through, and each one I've seen holds beautiful new challenges to dip into. Tumbleseed does a great job of forcing you to recalibrate your thinking every time you roll into a new area. Sure there are more pits but there are also enemies that hunt you down, enemies that approach at different angles, and weird new shapes to roll through. If anything, this change in mechanics and aesthetics feels akin to uncovering a new world in a "shmup."
While Tumbleseed won't be everyone's cup of tea, it's hard for me not to recommend it. There's a singularly thoughtful experience waiting there for people who slow down enough to really consider each action they make. After all, chipping away at the mysteries surrounding my rolling friend is more than enough to keep me coming back.
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