Worldless is a promising platforming and turn-based RPG | Hands-on preview

by on July 17, 2023

If I had to pick my two favourite genres of video game, I think I’d probably choose 2D platformers and turn-based RPGs. As other types of video games come and go from my life, these are what I fall back on. It’s pretty rare for these genres to be combined successfully though. You could argue that the Mario RPGs add a bit of platforming into the mix, and there are some cracking indies like Monster Sanctuary who have managed to make great games involving elements of both, but there aren’t a huge amount of examples of my favourite genres being totally blended. Well Worldless will be doing just that in the near future, and based on the preview build I tried it could be something special.

In a universe that’s only just finding its feet, existence is currently fairly conceptual. Orange and blue lights shine in the sky and clash with each other, but there’s no real explanation as to why. As different creatures made up of various shapes fight for a place in this new world, adapting and surviving is all that matters. Fortunately our glowing sword wielding protagonist is good at all that malarkey, and sets about becoming a powerful being that’s guaranteed to cope in this hostile world. The vagueness of the narrative isn’t normally something I’d be into, but you’re thrown into the action quickly enough that it’s not a big deal.

A screenshot of Worldless

Combat in Worldless is really engaging even from the start of the game. When it’s your turn you basically have a set amount of time to attack your enemy. You start off with a three hit combo you can unleash with your sword, and a two blast lightning attack for magical damage. Switching between the two will help you juggle enemies and deal a whole lot of damage, but after a few seconds it’ll be time for the enemy to hit back.

Enemies have physical and magic attacks too, which you’ll need to guard with your physical and magic shield respectively. Because these are tied to the same buttons as your attacks it’s easy to remember which is which, and you’ll know which one to use in advance thanks to some handy flashing lights just before impact. You’re also rewarded for perfect timing on your blocks, so getting into the rhythm of combat is key.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a battle though is breaking an enemies guard. When you do this you gain the ability to absorb them, by playing a quick minigame that gets easier the more you break them. Hitting weak points to break enemies is the name of the game here, because any you absorb give you a skill point to put into the skill tree. If you want to get stronger it’s all about assimilation baby.

A screenshot of Worldless

Even in this short preview build, I was able to power up my character a hell of a lot thanks to these skill points. Extra attacks in a combo, charge attacks and a stronger shield made me feel so much more powerful against the early game I struggled with at the start, but the extra strength was needed against the increasingly tricky shape based foes of new areas.

I’ve talked about the turn based combat, but what about the platforming? Well the movement of the protagonist is floaty but satisfying, and the environments are enjoyable to navigate. It’s actually closer to a Metroidvania than a pure 2d platformer, with new powers to unlock as you explore the world around you. In this build I got an air dash which proved invaluable, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more where that come from.

The two areas I had access to for this preview were wildly different, with their own fun obstacles to overcome. The opening area was pretty basic with a bunch of platforms to turn on and off with little glowing switches, but the second area had floating rocks that spawned more floating rocks, waterfalls you needed to dash through, and even little trapeze nodes you could fling yourself from. If Worldless continues to add more fun elements in each new area then I’ll be a happy jumping boy when the full game comes a knocking.

A screenshot of Worldless

I think my only real issue with what I played with Worldless was the setting. It’s quite a barren environment (which I guess makes sense since it’s a newly evolving world) and just feels a bit empty and dull to explore. Hopefully in the full game I’ll get used to it though, and the level variety could help with that.

Worldless is showing a lot of promise, and anyone who loves platforming or turn-based RPGs as much as I do should have their eye on this one. The level variety and upgrades were impressive even in the opening couple of hours, and I can’t imagine that’ll change in the full game. I’m looking forward to evolving more later this year, and you should be too.

Worldless hasn’t got a release date yet, but you can try the demo on Steam.