By: Justin Hobley
Attractio is an interesting mashup of first-person platforming and puzzle solving released by Bandai-Namco on January 18, 2016, for PlayStation 4 and Steam. It’s SteamPlay enabled, making it ready for play on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, all in one purchase.
Attractio is controller-ready as soon as you start playing, and it also works well with keyboard and mouse. While introducing the controls to you, Attractio does an excellent job of showing what key is mapped to a given action for both the keyboard and the mouse, so that if a player puts the controller down to go back to WSAD and a mouse, this can be done without exiting and relaunching. Aiming with a controller is a little sloppy, which is a bit worrisome when trying to complete the various puzzles.
The graphics are starkly colored and very fitting for a space station. The lighting is harsh to emphasize the lack of atmospheric diffusion aboard the satellite hanging in the sky above Mars, and the use of color for puzzles is executed well by sticking to red, blue and green in distinct hues for areas that are affected by a change. Attractio’s puzzles are color-dependent; I would have enjoyed seeing a more distinct texture change as a puzzle key, available as an in-game option, but this wasn’t present.
Music was fairly calm and went well with the puzzles as I played through. It presented an eager tempo, but it didn’t really force a sensation of high-paced energy, which keeps it from being a nuisance and distracting when playing.
In high orbit on the Entertainment Space Station above the planet Mars, you join Darius, the host of our reality show as he introduces Dalek, Mia and Keir to the audience of Attractio. Each person is competing for a prize that can only be won by being the first to the end of the puzzle chambers making up their respective routes.
The show begins with Dalek, amidst a chorus of boos from the audience watching, only to find out that he has opted for his freedom as a prize: He’s a prisoner that has earned the right to compete in this season’s run. He competes along with Mia, who has opted for a prize of advanced technology to take home with her to a colony on Mars, and with Keir, who has opted for the monetary prize to help improve the lives of many back on Earth.
Each contestant starts with an item that allows them to manipulate gravity as well as move boxes around as part of the puzzle mechanic. Mia starts with gravity boots, which allow her to flip head over heels as she works through a puzzle; Keir receives the shifter gun, which allows him to change the directional gravity on boxes throughout the levels; Dalek will receive both as he progresses through the chambers.
While working through each of the puzzle chambers, I noticed that Darius seems intent on playing the contestants off each other near the beginning, trying to motivate them into rushing headlong into deadly situations for the entertainment of the audience. His blend of sarcasm and high energy announcer doesn’t go unnoticed, and it is somewhat welcome as you play.
I found that I enjoyed the gravity-enhanced platform puzzles as I played through each of the character levels. There was that touch of frustration that I’ve come to associate with perceiving spatial puzzles, which is completely okay in my book. GameCoder Studios took the genre and ran well with it when they released Attractio, and it shows!