Semispheres

Semispheres Review

Stealthy puzzle-solving jellyfish

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

ESRB Everyone rating

Games where you control two things at once are always mind-bending. Semispheres will make you see orange and blue as you guide two jellyfish to their respective goals over and over again so let's solve some puzzles.

Semispheres screenshot 1
First, snakes were avoiding Genome Soldiers; now, it's jellyfish

Semispheres has a very interesting blend of gameplay mechanics. The aim of each stage is to guide the jellyfish to their goals by controlling each with their respective analog stick but it won't be easy seeing as guards will zap them back to their starting positions as soon as they're spotted. That's right; there's an element of stealth which is handled quite impressively. In order to pass these guards, you can utilize various one-time-use gadgets that are lying around. Such items allow you to make a noise to distract guards, a portal to have the jellyfish interact with each other's areas, a warp to transport guards to the other half of the stage, and a line to allow easy access between two points on the screen. In the end, the mixture of puzzle-solving, stealth, and use of gadgets adds up to craft a rather enjoyable formula that makes figuring out how to solve each stage a rewarding endeavor.

The visuals in Semispheres clearly highlight the polarity aspect of its core gameplay. Each stage splits the screen into an orange and blue half and the jellyfish are coloured accordingly. However, the fact that the graphics don't change from start to finish makes it all become stale much sooner than you'd hope. I wish every group of stages was rendered in different colours and textures but instead it looks the same throughout. On the other hand, the audio is great as it features a relaxing soundtrack and lovely embellishments whenever you complete stages and pick up and use items. Overall, the ambience of Semispheres is quite engrossing.

Semispheres screenshot 2
The fellows can't decide which side of the screen to hang out on

Thankfully, Semispheres' gameplay is incredibly easy to learn. The difficulty curve is handled perfectly as each new dynamic is presented in a simple and digestible way. However, its difficulty isn't on par with many other puzzlers so genre enthusiasts will be disappointed by the lack of challenge. To illustrate this, I finished the majority of the campaign in about an hour. That brings me to my next point: the campaign is disappointingly brief as there are only about 60 stages contained within 13 sections. Heck, there's even a trophy for beating the entire thing in less than 35 minutes. That's simply not long enough to warrant being a full downloadable game.

In addition to the short length, there is absolutely no replay value after you complete the campaign (with the exception of trying for that 35 minute trophy). I would have loved to see leaderboards that ranked you according to how long it took to complete the stages. Also, lacking the ability to play cooperatively is a huge missed opportunity. Sure, you could hold half of the controller each with another local player but the fact that they don't have an option for multiplayer is just silly considering the core gameplay involves controlling two characters simultaneously. Because of all this, you'll likely turn Semispheres off after you complete it (which won't take long) and never boot it up again. It's a shame because the gameplay is unique but unfortunately, there's not much content to enjoy it within.

Semispheres screenshot 3
No, dummies; you're both at the wrong goals!

Semispheres is a clever blend of stealth and polarity-based puzzles but the content is severely lacking. As a result, you may have an enjoyable time with Semispheres but that fun won't last much longer than about an hour.

  • + Well-implemented mix of puzzle and stealth mechanics with interesting gadgets
  • + Relaxing ambient audio
  • + Easy to learn dual-stick gameplay
  • - Very short and mostly unchallenging campaign with almost no replay value
  • - Visuals could use some variety
  • - No multiplayer or leaderboards
5.7 out of 10
Gameplay video for Semispheres 4:08
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