Constant C is a new physics-based puzzle platformer from 5pb.Games. I’ve played a lot of good physics-based puzzle platformers in my time reviewing games here at Gaming Nexus. To put it bluntly: Constant C is not one of them. It’s not necessarily a bad game, just sadly mediocre.
I say “sadly mediocre” because it has a lot of promise. Physics-based puzzles often don’t require a lot of esoteric knowledge. We all know how things like gravity, time, and momentum work because our brains are hardwired for it. Because of this, there is not a second set of made up rules we gamers have to learn to play the game. Well-designed physics-based puzzles are about as intuitive as video game puzzles get, and every gamer out there should be thankful when they come across good ones.
But Constant C doesn’t have good ones. Its “puzzles,” which amount to rooms you have to get through to progress in the game, are about as unintuitive as puzzles using such fundamental forces can get. The rooms you progress though become exercises in trial and error. Failing certain jumps and other puzzle obstacles can force you to play the whole sequence of rooms again just to get back so you can again. Or simply hit “restart level” in the options menu, but that seems like unnecessarily lazy game design to me.
The biggest offending mechanic in Constant C is the time bubble. In Constant C, you play as a robot stuck on a space station where time is frozen except for a relatively tiny bubble of space around the robo-protagonist. Anytime this bubble touches another movable object frozen in time, it moves in whatever direction it was moving when it became frozen or in whatever direction gravity happens to be oriented. As you progress, you’ll be able to change the direction gravity is oriented. Also affected by the time bubble are weird movable levers and platforms that seem to have no reason to exist on a space station other than for contrived gameplay reasons. I really hate that kind of stuff. The same goes for the randomly placed lasers and toothed grinding wheels that are maybe supposed to be gears? I couldn’t tell because Constant C’s art design is fairly unimpressive.
The graphics aren’t bad, per se, but the art design is boring and utilitarian; a real shame, since often the main draw for downloadable indie platformers, which are so hot right now, is art design. For example, the game’s robo-protagonist looks less like a robot and more like a skeleton from a much more childish game. Misguided design choices like that abound in Constant C.
Really, no part of the game fares well or is worth much mention. The story is nothing anyone is going to care about. You’re a robot trying to save a failing space station. There’s a robot antagonist, an A.I., and some human characters, but none worth caring about. Meanwhile the soundtrack just sort of sits there and never adds anything to the game. Sitting here right now, I can’t even recall it.
Ultimately, none of Constant C is exactly bad, but it’s nowhere near good, either. The impression it leaves has moved away from me at exactly 299,792,458 meters per second, just like the game’s title suggests.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been gaming since the Atari 2600, and I'm old enough to have hip checked a dude way bigger than me off of the game I wanted to play at an actual arcade (remember those) while also being too young to be worried about getting my ass kicked. Aside from a short hiatus over the summer and fall of 2013, I've been with Gamingnexus.com since March 2011. While I might not be as tech savvy as some of our other staff-writers, I am the site's resident A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones expert, and self-proclaimed "master of all things Mass Effect." I may be in my 30's, but I'm not one of those "retro gamers." I feel strongly that gaming gets better every year. When I was a child daydreaming of the greatest toy ever, I was envisioning this generation's videogames, I just didn't know it at the time and never suspected I would live to seem them come into being. View Profile