Published on November 15th, 2022 | by James Wright
Somerville Review (#XSX, PC)
Summary: Somerville is a beautiful puzzle
A beautiful puzzl
From the spiritual successor to Limbo comes Somerville, a short yet delightful game on the Xbox Series X that will immediately draw you in from its unique yet stylish graphics, engaging gameplay and more importantly, beautiful narrative and characters. Without spoiling the story as the emotional narrative is the heart of the game, you play as the father of a young family, living a normal life that is turned upside when their home is destroyed by alien invasion.
From here, both the player and the father explore this carefully crafted world with all its intricacies and nuances that becomes a game of survival. While the “aliens” are not the face of this game, it’s about the human element, survival and family which makes Somerville a very different yet enjoyable experience.
As mentioned, Somerville is a short game and most players will finish the title in just a handful of sittings as it goes for around 4-hours. Interestingly, this length is perfect for the premise and compared to the blockbuster games of 2022 which is like fast food, Somerville is more akin to a meal in a high-end restaurant due to the presentation and originality of the title.
Unlike Limbo, exploration is not just linked to one plane which makes the game less of a platformer plus the clever puzzles feel more purposeful. Given that, the platformer mechanics work well from jumping, holding onto ledges and interacting with the man-made objects such as levers. Additionally, the controls are well placed and responsive which assist the gameplay greatly. Sure there are elements of frustration but this is usually player error. Nonetheless, Somerville is an experience and while there is no replay value per se, its originality has made it one of my favourite titles of 2022.
Graphics / Audio
As mentioned earlier, the graphics and presentation for Somerville is quite stylized that has a great contrast with the colour palette that work hand-in-hand with the story and gameplay. Then you have the music that is used sparingly and changes with the narrative, including one powerful emotional scene that really shows how much you’re invested with these characters. Further, the audio and background ambience really triggers your senses, especially when the unexpected occurs.
Somerville is a true “short and sweet” gaming experience that really throws a spanner into traditional storytelling and gaming.