Explore an abandoned space station in this retro-themed explorative action platformer.
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (12 reviews) - 83% of the 12 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (265 reviews) - 93% of the 265 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Apr 22, 2015

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July 28

ESA speedrun at the European Speedrunner Assembly 2016 event!

ESA will be speedrun by Jazzy and ESGPuppetmaster later today at the European Speedrunner Assembly 2016 speedrunning event; if you want to see the game raced by two very skilled speedrunners, do join the stream!

The run will be at 21:51 UTC.

http://www.esamarathon.com/

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April 22

Anniversary sale!

To celebrate the first anniversary of the game, Environmental Station Alpha is -50% on Steam for this weekend! The OST also has a 33% discount!

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About This Game

Environmental Station Alpha is an action adventure platformer with a retro aesthetic and heavy emphasis on exploration. In the game the player controls a robot sent to investigate a mysterious, abandoned space station with the mission to find out what exactly took place there. Overrun by wildlife the station is immensely dangerous to explore, and on top of that earthquakes have made navigating the various areas very challenging. Over the course of the game the player must uncover secrets, fight loads of bosses and amass powerups in order to really figure out the fate of the space station. The game also features a wonderful ambient soundtrack to immerse the player into the gameplay.

The game's musics were made by Roope 'Noby' Mäkinen ( http://noby.untergrund.net/ )
The SFX were made by Joonas 'Kissa3' Turner ( http://twitter.com/kissakolme ) and Niilo Takalainen

NOTE: The Mac version doesn't have gamepad or Steam Cloud support.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 310M
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 30 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Realtek High Definition Audio
    • Additional Notes: May vary from computer to computer
    Minimum:
    • OS: OSX Yosemite
    • Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 600
    • Storage: 150 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Intel High Definition Audio
    • Additional Notes: No gamepad support for the Mac version
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Recent:
Very Positive (12 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (265 reviews)
Recently Posted
battleguineapig
2.1 hrs
Posted: August 21
its literally metroid fusion, without the rolling into a ball.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
RSCNyx
18.9 hrs
Posted: August 21
Environmental Station Alpha is a adventure platformer, very clearly inspired by games such as Metroid and the later Castlevania games.

The plot is that something happened to the station, and you are a robot sent in to find out why. That's all you get until you're sent on your way. You will explore the station, finding enemies, bosses, and upgraades all the while!

The visuals are low rez, but the art style looks really nice. There's also a lot of details in the animations. The music steals the show, though: The OST is pretty top notch, nailing the atmosphere perfectly.

The controls are very fluid and responsive, and moving around quickly with your upgrades is an absolute blast. Once you know how to go fast in this game, you really book it and it feels so great!

The world is large, and you'll be spending plenty of time going from place to place, trying to find everything you can! And that leaves the combat, and there is plenty of it. And this is where I have some issues with the game.

Even the normal enemies have some complex attacks, and will take some getting used to. More importantly, these enemies drop nothing on death. There are no health pickups of any kind outside of max health upgrades, and the only ways to heal are through picking up one of those max health upgrades, a save point, or a vitality station. As such, enemies will usually "nickel and dime" you to death before you can make it to the next save point.

The lack of health pickups is not, in my opinion, a good way to make a game difficult. You'll be treking through the same areas over and over until you get the enemies down enough to progress to the next area. Really, some small health pickups would be okay.

This is further complicated by your weapon being, well, awful. It's a very short range beam, and until you get upgrades to improve it, it's a pretty bad way to handle the many threats heading your way. That, and too many enemies take a lotttt of hits, and you don't have many ways to flee from most before they tag you.

As bad as generic combat is, however, the bosses are top notch. These are huge, often multi-stage affairs, and will test your skills to the limits. It's a great change of pace from Metroid(vania) bosses which are generally trivial with the amount of upgrades you receive. I have not fought one boss as of yet that was not fun to fight. Even better, the bosses grow more complex as you unlock more upgrades, using attacks that require mastery of new upgrades you acquire.

One more complaint comes from an event later in the game that literally gates off areas, forcing you to go through more annoying routes just to traverse through the world. These gates aren't locking you from areas, they're just locking you from the most direct way to go from point A to point B. More of a time waster than anything else.

Overall, though, Environmental Station Alpha is a lot of fun despite some of it's flaws. There are moments where you will feel frustrated, but everything else is done so well that if you like Metroid-ish games, you'll certainly like this. Just...be prepared to die quite a lot.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Kaeve
13.6 hrs
Posted: August 15
If you like metroid-style games, you will love this.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
BC
27.4 hrs
Posted: August 14
The best metroidvania I have ever played. There's challenging platforming, tough and creative bosses, and a really interesting story that you need to piece together clue by clue. Those things combined with great music and atmosphere make an excellent game that everyone should play.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
qmosea
21.7 hrs
Posted: August 10
VERY GOOD!!

If you like metroid style, you must play this game.

★★★★★ !
Helpful? Yes No Funny
SpitefulHammer
10.7 hrs
Posted: August 9
Environmental Station Alpha is a brilliant little gem of a game, and as far as I am concerned - the best metroidvania on Steam by a wide margin. A much tighter and nostalgic experience than some of the other, more well known and frankly more overrated metroidvania titles. *coughs* Axiom Verge *coughs*

There are a nice variety of environments and power-ups in the game, some brilliant bossfights and a very atmospheric and memorable soundtrack. You should be warned however, that for better or worse - It is an incredibly challenging game that often had me swearing at the screen... though I always went back for more!

There are also a -ton- of secrets to discover if you are a completionist, but the game will make you work for it. There really is a lot of game here for the money, and clearly a lot of passion and care put into the design. If you like platformers and/or metroidvanias - this game is a must buy!

I can't wait to see what this developer comes up with next!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ARCHIVE LOVER
15.5 hrs
Posted: August 6
A Metroidvania wrapped around an insane hours-long trail of riddles, optional bosses and crazy challenges leading to alternate endings. If you're the kind of person who 100%ed La-Mulana, you'll love the extremely deep and involved secrets. If you'd rather not dive into that, you're still left with a solid Metroidvania that's worth your money on its own.

Two things to keep in mind, though - firstly, Normal is actually really hard, so don't be afraid to play it on Easy if you're not looking for a serious challenge. Secondly, the game's map will outright lie to you about how many exits there are out of a given room. There's a bit of rubbing up against walls to figure out which one's fake and there isn't always an exit shown on the map, or enough of a hint that there is one at all.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
gkurelic
19.8 hrs
Posted: August 2
The boss battles are cheap, unfair, painstakingly repetitive and slow. A series of long lasting easy to dodge moves followed by the boss sporadically flailing around or shooting sprays of bullets in an impossible to avoid manner during the only time you can actually damage them.

I regret buying this game. beating this game means you're lucky, not skilled. I would not recommend this game even if it were on sale. If the bosses weren't complete BS I would gladly pay more than the current price. Even then it has many other flaws.

I'ts almost as if the testers only played with the maximum health upgrades, and said "yeah this is doable". but right before shipping he decided to start you off with 10 health, instead. You will get hit by the same stupid things no matter how good you get. It's not your fault it the games bad design. and you can spend forever going up and down the map (and you will, because of bad level flow and esoteric layout) and you still will barely find any health upgrades.

I absolutely do not recommend this game
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Austinlb55
29.4 hrs
Posted: July 29
Wait so i wasn't playing metroid this whole time?

...

you're sure?
Helpful? Yes No Funny
journeyman project torbo
16.1 hrs
Posted: July 25
the girl was a robot the whole time
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
15.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 6
A Metroidvania wrapped around an insane hours-long trail of riddles, optional bosses and crazy challenges leading to alternate endings. If you're the kind of person who 100%ed La-Mulana, you'll love the extremely deep and involved secrets. If you'd rather not dive into that, you're still left with a solid Metroidvania that's worth your money on its own.

Two things to keep in mind, though - firstly, Normal is actually really hard, so don't be afraid to play it on Easy if you're not looking for a serious challenge. Secondly, the game's map will outright lie to you about how many exits there are out of a given room. There's a bit of rubbing up against walls to figure out which one's fake and there isn't always an exit shown on the map, or enough of a hint that there is one at all.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
18.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 21
Environmental Station Alpha is a adventure platformer, very clearly inspired by games such as Metroid and the later Castlevania games.

The plot is that something happened to the station, and you are a robot sent in to find out why. That's all you get until you're sent on your way. You will explore the station, finding enemies, bosses, and upgraades all the while!

The visuals are low rez, but the art style looks really nice. There's also a lot of details in the animations. The music steals the show, though: The OST is pretty top notch, nailing the atmosphere perfectly.

The controls are very fluid and responsive, and moving around quickly with your upgrades is an absolute blast. Once you know how to go fast in this game, you really book it and it feels so great!

The world is large, and you'll be spending plenty of time going from place to place, trying to find everything you can! And that leaves the combat, and there is plenty of it. And this is where I have some issues with the game.

Even the normal enemies have some complex attacks, and will take some getting used to. More importantly, these enemies drop nothing on death. There are no health pickups of any kind outside of max health upgrades, and the only ways to heal are through picking up one of those max health upgrades, a save point, or a vitality station. As such, enemies will usually "nickel and dime" you to death before you can make it to the next save point.

The lack of health pickups is not, in my opinion, a good way to make a game difficult. You'll be treking through the same areas over and over until you get the enemies down enough to progress to the next area. Really, some small health pickups would be okay.

This is further complicated by your weapon being, well, awful. It's a very short range beam, and until you get upgrades to improve it, it's a pretty bad way to handle the many threats heading your way. That, and too many enemies take a lotttt of hits, and you don't have many ways to flee from most before they tag you.

As bad as generic combat is, however, the bosses are top notch. These are huge, often multi-stage affairs, and will test your skills to the limits. It's a great change of pace from Metroid(vania) bosses which are generally trivial with the amount of upgrades you receive. I have not fought one boss as of yet that was not fun to fight. Even better, the bosses grow more complex as you unlock more upgrades, using attacks that require mastery of new upgrades you acquire.

One more complaint comes from an event later in the game that literally gates off areas, forcing you to go through more annoying routes just to traverse through the world. These gates aren't locking you from areas, they're just locking you from the most direct way to go from point A to point B. More of a time waster than anything else.

Overall, though, Environmental Station Alpha is a lot of fun despite some of it's flaws. There are moments where you will feel frustrated, but everything else is done so well that if you like Metroid-ish games, you'll certainly like this. Just...be prepared to die quite a lot.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
75 of 83 people (90%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Recommended
19.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 27, 2015
This is pretty much your best bet if you're searching for a metriodvania game on Steam as of this review... 9/10

Just a moment of your time, if I may: Steam is filled to BURSTING with absolute garbage! I've been through nearly 5000 games on my recomendations queue, and I've only been barely interested enough in 200 of them to put on my wishlist.

If you're like me, and completely jaded by misleading tags, lack of gameplay in trailers, early access games that have been abandoned, ( A flood of RPGMaker, visual novels, poorly drawn anime dating sim, choose your own destiny, point and click, simulation, "survival horror", etc.) games that you are unable to filter out!!! (seriously steam, why the **** can't I filter this trash out?!)... Then your poor brain deserves this.

**Edit: Dear LORD of ALL that is HOLY and good in the universe, they've added a filter to the recommendations queue!! Thank you Lord Gaben!

The point is, this game is a deep breath of fresh air in an ocean of complete excrement.

+tight controls
+FULL controller support, even allowing you to use the D-pad or the left thumb stick for movement. So I don't understand the "Partial controller support" on the game's features. (And you bet your *** I'm using the XBox One Controller's D-Pad)
+rewarding discoveries
+brilliant and appropriate music
+awesome boss battles
+extended end game content

-there aren't enough talented people making games for Steam

Buy it at FULL price, because it's already being sold short!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
46 of 49 people (94%) found this review helpful
Recommended
87.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2015
I don't generally recommend things in a public place, because it seems a little pointless, but I hope this helps someone make a decision.

I've played every 2D Metroid, I've dabbled in more recent Castlevanias, I've done a lot of platformers. ESA managed to hold my attention for over 75 hours of exploration, trying somewhat challenging things, and more exploration. This is Hempuli's first commercial release to my knowledge, but he spent about 3 years tinkering with this game and trying to make it better. This is a better-designed metroidvania than Super Metroid was. There's no arbitrarily huge amount of health that you need to recover by grinding off of little enemies spawning out of pipes. You find a save, you get your health back, you fan out in multiple directions and see if you can find anything. The only real negative I can think of when it comes to ESA's exploration is that you don't find some little missile pack buried in each room, stuffed in a wall. You don't get that momentary gratification and pointless increase to the capacity of a weapon you'll never use. Instead, when you find some health or a bonus item, you feel massively more rewarded. That's not for everyone, but it's certainly for me.

I see a lot of complaints about ESA stemming from its difficulty. "This boss has too many phases", "I don't have enough health", "I don't know where to go", all that kind of deal. The boss pacing definitely feels off in a couple of places. Some of the earlier bosses are decidedly more challenging than later ones feel at the time. The reason this doesn't bother me is because each boss actually feels very unique. Each boss has its own mechanics and feels complex in its own way, aside from the first couple of bosses designed to teach you basic mechanics, and the bosses in ESA managed to have more varied and unique design than the entirety of every single 2D Metroid boss. Health is also not an issue in this game. There's an easy mode available directly from the start if you can't progress on normal, and it increases your maximum health, lowers enemy damage, and starts you with more maximum health. ESA also does a great job of directing you to where you need to be if you actually interact with terminals you find after bosses. Similar to Zero Mission, ESA will explain where you need to go through highlighting the target square on your map for you, which continues for quite a long time to allow you to continue progressing and exploring on the way to your destinations. You can also get around the game much faster than it initially seems due to the eventual introduction of a quick travel mechanic, eliminating a lot of pointless backtracking. Save points are generally positioned well and are used to prepare you for a boss so that you have a minimal run to get back to a boss. There are very few exceptions to this.

The amount of optional content in ESA is also very impressive. There are secrets hidden everywhere, optional upgrades you can find, and with the introduction of a recent patch an entirely new area to explore. On top of this, once you've beaten the main game and reached an ending, you may have some questions about things you have found in the past that seem to have had no effect. This is where your postgame starts, and there are plenty of clues about how to progress postgame that can be found simply by continuing to investigate each unfilled square on your map. The secrets of ESA are not like a missile expansion hunt you would experience in a Metroid game. They are targeted and explained if you look carefully. There are only a scarce few entirely self-contained bonus rooms having little to no indication of their existence; almost all the things you want to find have a directing point somewhere. The postgame secrets are handled in an entirely different way than the traditional metroidvania style and require a different mindset to continue delving into each step in the chain of hidden information, which is a wonderful changeup so late into the game.

The soundtrack was also handled very well. Every track fits into the area it belongs in and helps set the mood particularly well. The instrumentation used in ESA's soundtrack really goes well with the style of game and manages to call up memories of old SNES titles while not being some shameless ripoff. There wasn't a single instance where I felt "Oh, this track is obviously inspired by another game". My single complaint with ESA's soundtrack is the lack of variance in boss music. There's one track used for almost every boss in the game, and it became noticeable after a while. I definitely would have appreciated a bit of variance in the boss music, even if it was just one extra track on some bosses. Luckily, this isn't a huge issue, because most bosses are intense enough or go down quick enough once you know their patterns that the music doesn't feel repetitive.

The graphics are the only point where it starts to break down for me a little. For the most part, ESA functions visually, but there were definitely times where I felt that the player character was blending into the background a bit too much. The low-pixel style also impacted how enemies and environments appeared, and more than once I was a bit confused as to what I was looking at until I took a second to inspect it. This isn't a major issue, but I would personally have appreciated more pixel density for ESA so that I could better interpret what was going on in each area. It's easy enough to tell what you're looking at in 95% of the game, but that other 5% is what I wish had more to it. That said, each area in ESA is quite visually distinct and the environments never felt samey or repetitive. Each room, even, is visually memorable, which is pretty impressive.

Hempuli's put a lot of time into making ESA great. Any time a bug has come up, it's been fixed as soon as possible. There's still a persistent issue with some people running the Mac version where the game runs at decreased speed or lags, but from what I understand this might be fixed soon with a change in the Wine/Wineskin wrapper and is a result of a recent Mac OS update. Linux, unfortunately, does not jive with Multimedia Fusion. At the time of this review, your best bet is going to be playing this on Windows or using a dual-boot (which I guess people might have anyway because of Linux?), and the Mac version may be improved pretty soon to have few or no issues. There's one issue in particular where the Mac version will not support a controller natively, but using Joy2Key or any other program you like is a very quick workaround for this, and the keyboard controls function totally fine on their own. As far as the content of the game itself goes, bugs that have been reported to be negative for people have been ironed out pretty quickly, and nothing currently stands out as being broken. This is a game which has been examined and improved upon consistently since its release, and I really can't recommend it enough. Hempuli knocked it out of the park and has done all that was required of him as a dev, plus a free update with an entirely new area and its own secrets. Some people seem put off by ESA because of how it looks and from the apparently intimidating difficulty, but I promise that even a little patience goes a long way. I hope those who pick this up decide to keep at it even if a boss initially feels impossible or exploration feels initially unrewarding, because it is ultimately worth it.
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46 of 51 people (90%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Recommended
26.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 25, 2015
buy this game if you like:
-metroid
-exploring
-challenge
-really crazy puzzles/riddles

don't buy this game if you don't like:
-dying
-getting lost
-cryptic (but solvable) riddles
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
39 of 45 people (87%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
32.6 hrs on record
Posted: April 22, 2015
ESA is a game. It is a game about a space station. You as the protagonist is tasked in figuring out what has happened to it and its survivors. And that's about it for the story. Quite honestly, the fact that things are like that is fine for me. Although it does seem a bit same-y in terms of the sci-fi genre, the story is placed well not only with the various logs and computer terminals that are scattered about, but the environment and the atmosphere that each unique area presents.

The gameplay is good, and the item progression solid. It feels similar in pacing to Metroid Fusion, but it doesn't handhold you, nor are there long lengths of dialogue or exposition (okay, maybe it's more similar to Zero Mission). Enemies are distinguishable and have their own behaviours. All the bosses have their own strategies so you can't simply tank damage, and each battle a challenge to defeat. Each upgrade you get feels worthwhile and rewarding.

The sound effects of this game are great. From the various bits and pieces of the station that are still running, the pitter patter of water in the caves, to the heated areas that is the Volcanic Sector--all of it combined with the soundtrack brings its own feel. The soundtrack is closer to the 16-bit era of music instead of the blippy chiptune noises you get from the current nostalgia-hype of 8-bit music, and it's refreshing to hear it.

There's plenty of secrets to be had even if you finish the game. It doesn't pull the move of locking you into a predefined end-game path; the world remains quite open for you to explore. Health upgrades are pretty important items to find as later bosses take more hits to kill and find more ways to damage you, but that's not the only secret hidden on this station. I thought I'd seen everything, but then another one popped up.

It might be a while before I truly can consider myself 100%ing the game, but I can say that this game is great, and I recommend that you buy it. Watch out if you think ESA is going to be easy. It's not.
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27 of 27 people (100%) found this review helpful
9 people found this review funny
Recommended
11.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 2, 2015
Honestly, this one was a borderline call from me to recommend.

On the plus side, it's pretty much Metroid. "Spiritual successor" is an apt description. Metroid 1 sensibilities, but with a lot of the abilities and puzzle cleverness of Super Metroid. It's really good, and when it's fun it's fun.

But this game is HARD. Maybe I'm a sissy, I never got into Dark Souls, but this thing is crazy hard. Like "neighbors think I have Tourettes" hard, "Smash a controller like it's 1997" hard. It's so hard I almost want to downvote it, because it's "almost feels like a personal insult" hard.

This is not the cushy Super Nintendo style Level->Save->Boss->Save progression. There are multiple bosses in every level, and rarely is there a save point directly in front or directly after it. Right now I'm at the 2nd boss of the Temple level, and I can't even reach the boss with 50% of my health. I haven't seen a life tank or powerup for 3 or 4 bosses. Not mini-bosses, legit bosses.

So there you have it. Recommended if you like getting your face smashed in old-school.
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26 of 30 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
17.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 22, 2015
As an avid fan of Metroid, I got wind of this game just today. Yes the release day.

And let me tell you, ESA is a wonderful experience to play!

The simplistic pixelated graphics, the soundtrack, the gameplay.. all of it. What really gets me is ESA really sets the atmosphere very well, just like Super Metroid. Even the Controls are spot on with a 360 controller (even if the D-Pad isnt the best, it still plays very well, so you cant blame the game on movement, you have to blame yourself)

Item collecting is very rewarding, boss battles are tough yet fair, everything so far with 3 hours in feels.. Right. Very right, and well done.

Highly reccomend this title to anyone who loves Metroidvanias, or really good 2D platform adventure games. Honestly will be buying this for friends down the road too for them to experience it.

TL;DR - ESA is a love letter to the Metroid Series, and goes to show that this style of games, are not dead.

PS. I really hope they release the Soundtrack to this game, its very soothing to listen to.
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26 of 32 people (81%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
27.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 23, 2015
✓ Superb soundtrack which is atmospheric, varied and fitting.
✓ Very good map design and exploration, (seemingly intentional?) sequence breaks possible which makes for interesting replayability and playstyles. Strange, cryptic, (post?) end-game secrets, bosses, lore
✓ Surprisingly addicting, like, A LOT in my opinion. Gets better the more familiar you get with your surroundings
✓ Even difficulty, not too hard and not too easy, not to brag though(!) my past speedrunning, sequence breaking, low% runs, and tons of other high level Metroidvania skills and feats SURELY made this game easier compared to people with no knowledge and experience of similar things and techniques.
✓ Good boss designs

▬ No Steam overlay (Screenshots must be done manually, Broadcasting not working)
▬ Some ill-matched, repetetive sound effects
▬ Feels almost like a Metroid-mod, not too much of an own personality, a bit too similar to Super Metroid/Zero/Fusion in terms of enemy design, fake blocks/traps, sprites, areas and items.
▬ Somewhat clunky combat mechanics and A.I. but becomes acceptable the more upgrades you get.
▬ No incentive to kill enemies as they don't drop anything or serve any other purpose than to damage you
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17 of 22 people (77%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
22.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 25, 2015
Very clever level design and perfect difficulty will ensure that Environmental Station Alpha will keep all Metroidvania fans satisfied for many days.

+ Smart level design
+ Long game length
+ Unique bosses
+ Challenging platforming
+ Multitude of upgrades
+ Great soundtrack

- Uninspired pixel art
- Derivative overall feel
- Little bit frustrating when stuck

8.5/10
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