Developer: The Bworg
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X (Reviewed)|S
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
TEN (yes – all in capitals) is the game that has ten rooms (levels) that have a ten seconds time limit across ten floors (stages) where you must navigate a series of puzzles. While the premise seems simple, it’s far from simple and can be infuriating. Addictively frustrating is the best description that can be coined for this game.
TEN is a side-scrolling fast-paced puzzle game that requires fast wit and reactions. The game has three modes: casual, normal, and “Hell Mode”. I found the normal mode hellish enough, but if you need a further challenge, your wish is catered for. If you do find the normal mode too tough and want to navigate the story and the game in general, the casual mode is an awesome feature.
Each room (level) has varying mechanics that you must learn to navigate it’s; a case of die and learn, then navigate to the next room where the puzzles get; more complex, and you die even more. The rage can creep in quickly, so some persistence is required, and each stage has a satisfying ending – big huge angry bosses! I loved the bosses and boss levels; a healthy spattering of both helps; to keep the levels novel and makes you want to battle through the countless deaths.
If you do die too much, the game does have the ability to refresh your health which seems to be once per stage run.
Another key feature which adds another depth to the game is the upgrade and skill system, which allows you to somewhat take the edge of the game by enhancing your character. These include better jump, more lives and better ability to avoid bullets etc.
The skill and upgrades are based on the number of coins you collect through the game. These help to reduce the difficulty and incentivises collecting the coins.
A likeness to Super Meat Boy with the saw-related deaths is the obvious comparison but there; are a whole host of other ways to die in this game and different mechanics and storytelling. This game does have a dark and broody vibe throughout the pixelated 8-bit graphics with a distinct lack of colour, giving an awesome visual style to the game. The lack of context at the start of the game, in particular, gives a mystery to the game, which gets fleshed out as your progress through the game. The story is interesting and adds another level to the game; it’s intriguing and rewarding in equal measure.
The soundtrack enhances the gaming experience; it’s bombastic and loud and adds to the tension in every room. It’s absolutely banging music that perfectly accompanies this dark and wonderful game. Sound effects also feel impactful and smack you in the face as you consistently die over and over. Sound production is complementary in all aspects and makes for an even more immersive experience. dBXY Collective are responsible for the soundtrack.
This game is that classic 2D 8-bit puzzle game that has been modernised and made into a great game that’s both tough and intriguing. The classic puzzle style mixed with a chunky high adrenaline soundtrack is great high octane fun. The casual mode is a godsend for those who get infuriated! Superb from start to finish and every bit in between.
TEN isn’t priced at ten dollars, euros or pounds but is available at £4.99 / $4.99 / €4.99.