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Game Review #108: Samsara: Deluxe Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B.

Developer: Marker Limited Publisher: Marker Category: Puzzle, Strategy Release Date: 01.10.19

Price (at time of review): $9.99



Buy Samsara: Deluxe Edition from the Nintendo eShop here.


From New Zealand-based developer Marker Limited comes Samsara: Deluxe Edition for the Nintendo Switch. Most Switch ports just take a previously released game and all its DLC for release on the console, but Marker went the extra mile and created 24 brand-new levels just for the Switch! Together with the 77 levels the game already had, it makes for a healthy chunk of gameplay time. Samsara is a puzzle platformer, somewhat reminiscent of the classic Lemmings, but with a few interesting twists.


Zee Big Escape

Players adopt the role of Zee, a regular kid who just wants to chase squirrels in the park. One day, while doing just that, Zee gets sucked into a weird portal that sends him into a bizarre dimension split by a thin body of water. Along the way Zee encounters a strange shadow version of himself, and together they must progress through this mirror world to find their way home. The story isn’t all that deep and the characters really don’t get much in the way of development, but I enjoyed the narrative that the game built for what it was anyway. There isn’t any dialogue to speak of, so the story is told through the gameplay and small cutscenes between levels. It’s just an easygoing, pleasant story to accompany an easygoing, pleasant game experience.



So This Kid Doesn’t Know How to Turn Around Without Running Into a Wall?

Samsara’s gameplay concepts are fairly simple; applying them properly is much less straightforward. Essentially, you have Zee (and eventually Zee’s shadow), and you have to get Zee from the starting point to a portal some ways away. You do so by placing wooden blocks you are provided into the level to create a path. Blocks come in different shapes; some are squares, some have a diagonal end that can be used to ascend to a higher level. Zee always walks one direction, but will turn around after running into a wall. Eventually, new obstacles such as platforms that crumble when you walk over them and portals are introduced to enhance the challenge.


The screen is split in two halves by a barrier of water; I compared it to a mirror earlier, but the two havles are not mirror reflections of each other. Any blocks you place in the dark half will be mirrored on the light half, however, so figuring out how to manipulate that is key to solving the game’s puzzles. Once Zee’s Shadow is introduced, you have to guide both Zees to their respective portals. Since both halves of the level are different, you essentially have to create two paths out of one set of blocks. It creates a really challenging set of puzzles all its own, but adding in the additional obstacles later on makes the game that much more challenging, and the variety keeps the gameplay feeling fresh all the way through.



Beautiful Hand-Drawn Graphics

While I suppose the gameplay is the real draw of any good game, Samsara’s graphics are as good a reason to give it a try as anything. They have a hand-painted look to them, and they are simply gorgeous. The animations have a marionette-like quality about them due to how to character models are constructed, which creates a really cool, unique visual style. It’s simply a good-looking game. The music is passable; the soundtrack is mostly comprised of ponderous piano solos occasionally accompanied by eerie string sections. The game is generally quiet and keeps the soundtrack out of the way. It’s not a bad thing, though, since that helps you focus on the gameplay a little better.


Zee End

Samsara: Deluxe Edition is a fun puzzle game that introduces some unique elements into the puzzle platformer genre. The mirror world mechanic challenges you to solve two puzzles with one solution. The graphics are fantastic, but the music could use some more personality (or it has exactly the right amount if you prefer puzzle games to just stay quiet and let you think). The story is a little thin, but charming nonetheless. In short, it’s not a complicated game by any means, but it does present quite a rewarding experience for anyone who picks it up.


Score: 8/10


Buy Samsara: Deluxe Edition from the Nintendo eShop here.


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*Review Code Provided by Renegade PR

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