This week’s featured game in our Weekly Spotlight program is a break from our previous entries. As those focused mostly on incredible story and emotion as well as gameplay, this game is a bit different. It is a platformer called TurnOn by independent developer Brainy Studio. Essentially, the title is a platformer without platforms. It is available from the Xbox Store now for $14.99.
TurnOn centers around an alien “spark” that crashes into a local power station after cruising through the atmosphere. The crash not only knocks out the power in the entire city, but also transforms the alien into a rational being called TurnOn who looks like a fireball with a cute, smiling face. And no, this is not an emoji game. Professor Brain, who was working at the power station when TurnOn crash-landed, found him and decided to help him out. You see, Professor Brain drives a mini school bus powered by an electric generator which he uses to carry TurnOn around the city and restore the power district by district.
The gameplay premise in TurnOn is fairly simple. TurnOn is an electric spark and needs constant electricity to survive. You will maneuver him over power lines, over street lamps, into generators, through homes and more in an attempt to restore power to every part of the city. Your score on each level is based on a system similar to Angry Birds. You will be graded on a scale of one to three lamps, and need to collect a lot of collectibles to get the top score. In each level, lightning bolts are situated all over. Touching each one gives you a single point, while every street lamp or business sign, etc you activate accounts for ten points. You illuminate the lamps as you earn points, and need to light up all three to get the top score for each level.
Design is an integral part of a platformer’s success as well. With few fringe ongoings in platformer games, it’s necessary to make some adjustments so as not to appear “flat”. TurnOn does just that and it’s remarkable how well it works. The games uses a 2D drawn environment that behaves as 3D. By this, I mean objects in the foreground are drawn bigger and closer to the bottom of the screen, while objects in the background are smaller and near the top of the screen. At certain points, you’ll find TurnOn jumping straight up through three or four power lines, with each one in a different part of the background. As you jump up, TurnOn becomes slightly smaller in order to adjust into the background, and vice versa into the foreground. TurnOn didn’t have to use this setup.
BrainyStudio could have easily opted for a more generic type of navigation. I’m glad they didn’t though, because the reason this setup works so smoothly is because of the game’s unique gameplay. No current platformer can use the setup that TurnOn does with the same success, and the game is that much better for it.
TurnOn utilizes an interesting color scheme that changes as you play. Due to the level beginning in darkness (Remember, there is no power), many of the game’s objects are darkened or cast in shadow of moonlight. As TurnOn makes its way across power lines, street lamps, and homes, electricity is restored and bright colors are splashed onto the screen. Since the power is restored progressively as you go, TurnOn makes it seem as if you are telling a story yourself simply by playing the game. Shading of the game’s colors was done quite well. The focal point of all objects use such bright colors, but it’s just enough to not overpower you.
A few of the levels are “on rails” where TurnOn is perpetually in motion and you only control whether or not to jump. It’s a good contrast to the game’s main levels and they maintain the same type of graphical setup. In all, there are 31 levels in TurnOn along with the aforementioned 82 achievements. Some are for earning the top score of three lamps on each level, while others are for illuminating certain building in said levels.
Not only as a platformer, but just an extremely enjoyable game in general, TurnOn is a game you should play as a platformer fan. It’s a well-organized title that compliments its genre and, most importantly, is incredibly fun and immersive to play. It is available now on Xbox One and PC, and recommend giving it shot.