Momentum Review

Mass x velocity = frustration

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing an Xbox One on

ESRB Everyone rating

Guiding spheres through stages has been enjoyable ever since the 1984 arcade classic Marble Madness. Here we have a new take on the genre so let's see how it lives up to its ancestors.

Momentum screenshot 1
I wonder if anyone's watching me play from the city way down there...

Over the years, we've seen many marble-guiding adventures such as Marble Blast, Kororinpa: Marble Mania, and even the Super Monkey Ball series. Momentum cuts out all of the bells and whistles that many of these games feature in favour of a streamlined no-nonsense approach that will end up both testing your skills and driving you insane. You play by tilting the track and camera with the analog sticks in order to guide your ball to each stage's goal. You can also perform a little hop that comes in handy for shortcuts if you're aiming to get a better completion time for the current stage. That being said, it's extremely dangerous to use so I rarely took advantage of it as I was too afraid that I'd fall off course. That's right, Momentum is a far more sensitive game than you'd expect. It's this unforgiving level of challenge that'll either keep you coming back for more or make you gladly shut it off and play something else.

Momentum consists of a 90 stage campaign. Considering each stage will probably require many attempts, it'll take you hours to complete the entire thing. That is, if you have the patience to work through it all. These stages take place within three unique environments that are quite lovely. You'll roll your ball of choice above a city, up in the clouds, and within a massive tower. It's impressive how different each one of these environments look. The city portion is dark and looming with the odd car zipping through the streets below while the sky and tower stages are much more mysterious in their distinct ways. Anyway, you'll come across many features as you progress such as switches that disable walls, warps, and plenty of hazardous contraptions that'll make you want to throw your controller.

Momentum screenshot 2
You'll need the patience of a saint to get through some of these stages

Although the campaign is long, there really isn't anything else to Momentum. Sure, you can get better medals by completing stages in faster times and unlock different balls according to various conditions but I would have liked to see a multiplayer aspect or some mini-games. After being spoiled with games like Kororinpa and Monkey Ball that feature loads of content, Momentum is incredibly bare-bones in comparison. That being said, the fact that you can progress through the campaign non-linearly is very well implemented. Basically, you can start at the beginning of each of the three areas as you wish then whenever you complete a stage; you unlock the next two stages. Therefore, you'll rarely find yourself getting stumped without any options.

As I've already mentioned, this is one tough game. Ordinarily, I love a challenge. Heck, I completely finished both Kororinpa games. However, Momentum gets way too difficult early on in the campaign. The first dozen stages are simple enough but then the challenge escalates quickly after that. I wish there was a gentler learning curve because I imagine that most gamers who attempt this game will be put off much too soon into the journey. One factor that contributes heavily to the frustration is that you frequently lose sight of your ball in more complex stages. To illustrate this, when you roll underneath a solid object, it becomes translucent so you can see your ball. However, it takes a split second to adjust and also complicates your surroundings by still showing too much detail. Seeing as this is a game where speed is important, how the heck do they expect you to go fast in stages when you can't clearly see what's going on?

Momentum screenshot 3
Too bad I can't jump up to the ledge; darn force field!

Momentum is a solid attempt at a physics-based ball-guiding game but its bare-bones and super-frustrating gameplay often turn it into a test of patience rather than an enjoyable gaming experience.

  • + Simple yet incredibly challenging gameplay that'll put your skills to the test
  • + Three distinctly attractive environments
  • + Non-linear progression is well handled
  • - Quickly gets far too difficult so most gamers will likely quit early on
  • - Only consists of a single player campaign
  • - Stages frequently get obstructed
6.0 out of 10
Gameplay video for Momentum 4:14

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