Spate... If I was asked to give a list of examples of how to make a so-so atmospheric platformer, I wouldn't hand over Spate, because that would imply that this game was good enough to even be considered "only" mediocre. No, Spate is the epitome of what people who hate the genre believe it is: creepy/trippy backdrops to make up for a dearth of actual gameplay elements.
Spate is the story of a detective who ventures to an supposedly uninhabited island that was once the scene of a mass disappearance of its citizens, and is now covered in a layer of fog and precipitation. His goal is to find some missing entrepreneur, but that quickly resolves itself to make way for heavy handed existential talk of him losing his daughter. You really begin to feel for the good detective when transparent photos of his deceased daughter are superimposed in the background. It looks as terrible as it sounds, but sounds nowhere near as terrible as the voice actor who portrays our detective. More often than not, Detective Hevyhans sounds like one of the more hilarious Christopher Walken impersonations littering youtube. It's as if the actor who portrays him truly means to do his best to destroy any remaining potential for solid exposition, at least any that the highschool level monologue that runs ad nauseam fails to deal with.
Levels typically consist of overly long straight and narrow pathways, and occasionally these turn into overly long platforming segments where the platforms barely differentiate in height, size, or distance from each other. And don't worry, equally mediocre jumping controls complement these mediocre jumpways. Some areas introduce more puzzling elements, and I don't mean that they in any way promote thought on the part of the player. An early example of puzzling elements include machinery (usually controlling buzzsaws) that may try to throw a wrench in your plan to move rightward. There is no rhyme or reason to their inclusion in the game, and they don't even match with the surrounding scenery. So why are they here? Likely because someone played too much LIMBO whilst developing Spate.
Another puzzling addition to the game is the inclusion of a "drink" button. This lets you take a swig of absinthe whenever you please, because your daughter's dead, which twists the world a bit, adding oddities like eyes to trees and giant floating fish in the sky. It also allows you to jump really high, because absinthe is apparently a very powerful hallucinogen, now. From what I've played, there's no point to the function, other than to break up the monotony of moving right for minutes while nothing happens. I've never needed the high jump, and the "hallucinogenic" effects wear off in a matter of seconds unless you smack the "drink" button between every couple of breaths.
do one thing right. It gives me an even higher appreciation of games that absolutely nail the whole atmospheric bit, like LIMBO. I remember first playing LIMBO years ago, thinking how easy it would be to make a similar game. After all, how difficult could such a minimalist experience be to create? If Spate is any indication, I clearly gave the creators of LIMBO far too little credit.