Do you love to cut ropes by clicking and dragging a mouse, but wish there was a game that the difficulty greatly outweighed the fun? You may be one of the rare people meant to play Volt. The object of Volt is to get a robotic head with twin rope cannons from the start into a black hole of an exit square.
Yes yes, calm down. Dual rope cannons do sound cool. Volt (your robot, not the game), can shoot out two grappling hooks within a certain radius that appears on your screen as a beautiful glowing blue hue. To deploy a grappling hook, just left click your mouse on a wall, ceiling or floor. The only problem is Volt can’t climb, it can just hang on. If you need to shorten the rope, you need to figure out a way to make it shorter. Things like making a second rope and then cutting the first one to swing on the second and making a new first rope at the apex of your swing.
To cut the rope, you need to hold the left mouse button and drag a line across the tether that you want severed. That too is pretty easy. Its just the timing, cutting, precision, aim and momentum that become the issue. I’m sure it works great on an touch screen, but not with a mouse. Even something as cool as swinging on ropes has turned into an awful process.
Volt is legless, so you are unable to move left, or right. You can’t control your swing either. To make volt move you need momentum from one rope to the next like Spiderman with no legs or tumble down a slope. Right mouse clicking will make Volt jump if its on a solid object like a floor or a wall. If Volt is flat on the floor and he jumps it will hit the ground and randomly move one way or the other. It is imprecise and inconsistent. If Volt is hanging from a rope and next to the wall, the right click makes it push off a bit. I’ve gotta say this control scheme is awful for the levels that you play in. These levels need a lot of perfect timing and luck. Your hook shots are limited and you can touch certain spheres for more ammunition. So if you run out, you’re stuck and need to hit escape to restart the level or go back to the menu.
The game consists of four zones, each with 15 – 20 levels and the last having only 6. The first four out of 60+ levels start out fine and introduce the mechanics. Cutting the rope, swinging and cutting, jumping, tumbling your robot head down a slope into an exit. They all have saw blades that aren’t quite instant death. Volt (the robot) has four cells of energy. Some saw blades take two cells, others take one. The game even forces you to take a hit on a saw blade to make it to an exit to prove that you will survive.
Then Volt (the game, not the robot) decides you’ve had life too easy and throws you quickly to the wolves. What makes these levels so bad? Just the mechanics and the fact you need to be so precise. Swinging through saw blades, avoiding moving saw blades. These eventually get to be long levels. I can’t call them time consuming, because each attempt takes less than a minute, but it becomes a longer than necessary process. Every swing and incorrect timing will mean certain death.
To top that off, a lot of the levels feel cryptic. Not with where you go, but how you go there. For better or worse, there is no hand holding in this game. You need to figure out to shoot something that will disable a laser. To have one tether connected to a ceiling, then one to a moving platform below you and wait until the lower rope stretches so far that it breaks so you catapult upward. This is all on you to figure these things out.
Since there are so many things the game doesn’t tell you, I do feel like I had plenty of ah ha moments. Some people may like that, but ending a level with a head scratcher doesn’t feel like fun. It made me feel like I had to get through the level ten times before I could solve the puzzle at the end. In fact the whole game didn’t seem fun or entertaining. Its just a tough, uphill challenge.
There are blue lines and yellow lines. Blue lines you can’t hook through. So walls and ceilings get covered with blue lines. Then there are blue lines that Volt can go through, but not your lines. So if you’re hanging from a moving platform that crosses through a blue line, your tether gets cut and you fall.
Yellow plates begin to cover walls, touching them will hurt Volt. These you can grapple onto, but it sends an energy charge down your line to Volt. If the charge touches your robot, not only does it hurt you, but it severs that line. Its a good sort of way to push your pace. Then there are yellow auras that reverse gravity. You gently hover up to the ceiling in the yellow aura. It slows down your momentum though. So even quick swinging into the aura, you’ll slow down and get pulled upward. There are a few levels that require you to swing deep into these auras and hope to not hit saw blade walls. Not just going one direction, but then turning around back the other way. If you haven’t guessed, you can’t turn Volt around without the hook and momentum, but you can’t hook onto saw blades.
At some point the game introduces boxes that need you to either momentum swing into them to knock them down or shooting them with your rope will make it disappear. In fact if your light rope touches a box, the box and rope disappear. Several times, I had swung into a box and poof there went the rope and I fell into a pit of saw blades. Then there are red boxes. Hitting them with your rope makes them explode and if you’re close enough, Volt will fly the other direction.
All the plates, explosive boxes and moving platforms do make for some intriguing levels. I just wish that Volt controlled better and I didn’t have to be so exact with my time. I wish there was an easy mode with less saw blades and less challenge. This isn’t a game like Super Meat Boy where I still have fun dying dozens of times in an hour, I feel every death in Volt. I feel the brief one second reload time as I need to methodically go through the precise process just to make it back to where I had died. Knowing that its not always skill, but a bit of luck that will get me back there.
The game has a nice atmosphere, with black silhouettes and glowing colors. It looks like a game I want to play. I just wish that the controls were better. I think its the visuals that really kept me in the game to suffer as long as I did. Since Volt can get frustratingly difficult far too soon, the developers made a good choice on the mellow music in the background.
You need to complete one level to unlock the next. Forcing you to play every level. There are par times that give you ‘a’ rankings. It seems like there are a few collectables here and there and four unlockable characters. None of which I’ve unlocked and I can only hope they control better, because they can’t be worse.
If you are a hardcore gamer that needs a steep challenge, this game is for you. For anyone else that needs to swing on ropes to have fun, try out Bionic Commando or even Cut the Rope. Sure one is a 2D shooter and the other is a casual game, but they are both far more fun than this. Who am I to say what your fun is?