Oh Climbros, you could have been an essential game that would have become and iconic Indie. But a few things here and there unfortunately hold you back from greatness.
Look, Climbros is far from a bad game, it is still a fine game that is fun to play. Yet it is frustratingly close to being so much more. My initial plan was to capture some footage and do a let’s play style video. This is where the first issue arises. I cannot play the game docked unless I use a detached half Joycon. I can’t use either my Pro Controller, not the 8bitDo controller. Now I know this could be fixed with a patch, but it is an odd bug to have and not get through QA. I like playing handheld though so it isn’t the end of the world, but just be warned.
Gameplay wise Climbros is very satisfying in most areas. It is a rock climbing game that has you, unsurprisingly, climbing across various locations to get from a starting point to a finishing flag. It is simple but the game really shines in the control system.
Climbing in Climbros feels really well done and moving across the 16-bit inspired worlds is a joy. You get a sense of fear that you’d expect from actually climbing for real (I think, I’ve never done it, but take my word for it). I kid as it clearly won’t be the same level of fear, however, minor mistakes can see your avatar plummet to the bottom and even death. So planning and precision is a must.
Leaps of faith are needed at time and gaps are built so that you can never be 100% sure you can make it. You could take a safer route, but the main target is to get through the route’s checkpoints as quick as possible. So taking it safe will not always be best. So you have a risk reward element.
There are certain tools which are designed to help you. I say designed to help, as the grabbling hook can feel next to useless at times. You fling it out to grapple on to a potentially unreachable area, or if you missed a grip. But it lacks the ability to then climb up it, you sort of just hang there and need to release and drop. You can use it to swing if you have the momentum, but I found that rarely needed.
The grappling hook only really becomes useful in multiplayer, as you use it in tandem with a partner to anchor each other up the levels. It feels like a brilliant mechanic not quite implemented in the best way.
I also felt Climbros could have worked better as something else. The checkpoint based routes are fine, but I wanted more. Something relaxing to play through, a sort of open world where I can just get to the peak in any way I see fit. Or lean more into a story based game with light RPG / Metroidvania style elements for getting better equipment to reach other areas. A reverse Steamworld Dig maybe?
I don’t know, I spent my time playing Climbros thinking it was a prototype for a much bigger and better experience. I wanted to spend much more time within the world, as all the elements work really well and it looks lovely, but it is all over far too soon.
There are 4 different areas which are fun to play though, but each one can be finished within an hour or so. I am not sure what to feel about the areas either, they are more fantastical than the tutorial and opening area which whilst fun doesn’t quite work for me. I’d rather see more time spent on something more grounded.
It sounds like I am dumping on Climbros, but please believe me, I don’t want to. The act of climbing is brilliant and the graphical style and animation is wonderful It is so satisfying to play at its best, but there just isn’t enough of the better moments.
Yet here we are, Climbros is a fine but flawed game. Yet it is one that should a sequel over see the light of day, I’d be all over.