So Levelhead is a game I have had my eye on for a while. Not because I was desperate to play it, but more that it is the first one I noticed that seemed to be going all in on the Mario Maker format.
I am positive I can be corrected here. Someone will be able to point out numerous clones that already exist. But there we are, this is the first one I noticed and this is my review… so there!
So let me be clear on something right from the start. Levelhead is unashamedly influenced by Mario Maker, but I’ll stop short of calling it a clone or rip-pff, or anything else like that. Why? Because it does a few things different and in some cases better.
Like the aforementioned Mario Maker (I’ll try and keep mentions of this to a minimum), the games is split into a campaign and custom levels. The campaign is designed to teach you the games mechanics, whilst introducing you to the custom design elements.
What really stood out to me, was how good the core gameplay was. There has been a lot of love and craft poured into Levelhead and it shows. The main character is GR-18, a delivery robot who is in training. GR-18 has a lot of character and the world has been designed around it. This benefits the game as a whole, because it all fits, rather than just being a bunch of ideas thrown together.
Movement is really well done too and has a feeling of its own. Again, it could have been easy to copy existing titles, but from the first moment you load Levelhead, it has an identity in the way it plays, alongside the overall look.
The campaign, whilst being an excuse to teach you core mechanics actually feels pretty meaty and even if you decided to not touch the creation tools, or created levels, you still get a lot of game.
However, you aren’t trying this for the already crafted campaign. You are here to see what the creation tools are like and what others are actually creating. Although, you can admit you were also checking it out in morbid curiosity. I know I was.
You have a pretty robust level editor here. There are a lot of tools that offer you a good amount of creative freedom. A grid based system is used, so you can drag and drop the various element onto the canvas and it’ll fit together like a 2D Lego set.
There are various themes that can easily be changed on the fly, no matter what you have already created. There aren’t tons of themes on offer, but enough to do the job. It is the same with the options for what you can actually place on a level.
There is a fairly small toolset here, but one that definitely allows you to create interesting levels. There are a few different types of ground, enemies, traps, switches, etc. At first it does feel very limited, but the opposite is true. You work within the limited tool set and become more creative.
I am no game designer, but the UI is super user-friendly and allows you to feel like you know what you are doing. In other games with editors, I have found myself at a loss such are the options on offer. So this makes me feel I can create something worthy of sharing.
And it is in the sharing where this game shines. Levelhead has been in early access for some time, which means there are already lots of levels available. Which means there is no denying that there is a lot of promise, and that should only grow as the game reaches more people in the wild.
The Tower is where you’ll find the creations from other players. These can be filtered by numerous options that allow you to find pretty much any style you want to play. But The Tower is for the levels that have received enough plays and votes to be showcased. Fear not though, as you can find many, many other levels in the Marketing Department. Levels played there earn exposure and get showcased in The Tower. It is a nice idea to make sure there is a good chance of anyone getting seen.
What really takes Levelhead to a whole new…erm… level, is the cross-platform nature. The game can be played across Xbox, Epic, Switch, Steam, Android, and iOS, with full cross-save. Which also means you can play levels created by PC players on the Switch, or any other platform the game supports. There are no restrictions.
This is honestly brilliant and means you aren’t cut off by sticking to a single platform. I have seen other games that have seen wonderful creations on PC, but not been able to be played on a console. Which has never made sense to me. So Butterscotch Studios deserve full praise here.
I could go on and on about the little things, such as a wealth of options that make the game more accessible to play and to edit, but I’ll not bother, as you’ll be able to tinker with those yourself.
I started with the obvious comparison to Mario Maker but to just label Levelhead as that would be unfair. It is another game in that genre for sure, but it is one that can stand proudly alongside the famous moustached plumber as a beacon of creativity. A must own game.