TurnOn begins with a meteor crashing to earth, wiping out all of the power to vibrant Electro City while at the same time delivering a living, rather sad-looking, little ball of electricity to the planet. Your goal is then to undo all of the damage by taking control of the poor chap and platforming to find and reach electrical devices. This, as the title suggests, turns them back on.
Much like the premise, the gameplay here is rather simple and for the most part it’s pretty relaxing too. The left stick moves the little spark left or right along power lines, the “platforms” in this platformer, while A jumps to higher platforms and B drops to lower ones. Although these wires exist in a 3 dimensional space, only your perspective matters so wires at the back of the screen can be jumped up to from those at the front and vice versa as long as they appear higher to you.
Each level also includes a smattering of lighting bolt collectibles. While these are mostly optional, exploring the levels of TurnOn is actually a joy as you strive to find all of the ways you can help the city’s inhabitants, and to see their reactions. At the end of each stage a score is also given along with a rating out of three lamps, based on the bolts collected and the devices you found to activate with an achievement tied to obtaining this in each level.
Boss battle against a drone? Check. Creating the ambiance for a moonlit boat date? Sure. High speed chase with a Ferris wheel? Why not. TurnOn puts you in all of these scenarios and therein lies its biggest strength. As a relatively simple platformer it’d be easy for TurnOn to feel stale very quickly and yet it manages to stave this off through the sheer variety of its levels. While some of the 32 stages do have the traditional “travel from start to finish” goal, many provide a more open area to explore with an alternate objective such as guiding a person safely to their worried parents, by turning on streetlights, or simply exploring each room of a single home. Every few levels a faster paced “runner” style stage is also be thrown into the mix, with a catchy music number to match, forcing you to quickly hop up and down between platforms to dodge obstacles.
Although it is a delightful little game, TurnOn is by no means perfect. For the most part it is very easy, giving no real consequence for the rare occasion when you do die in the slower levels, only returning you to the last checkpoint with all of your collectibles still intact. The few boss battles and “runner” stages provide a bit more of a challenge with fewer or no checkpoints but the latter also lack polish. Music tracks, which play to match the pace, would at times cut out completely and collectibles would fail to register as picked up. The jump also feels just a little bit too floaty here, meaning that often I’d jump to avoid an obstacle only to land on another or fall in a hole that wasn’t on screen when I’d pressed the button. It’s easy to avoid these points after a few attempts so it doesn’t become a huge issue, but even zooming the camera out a bit would help solve the problem.
Towards TurnOn’s finale the last few levels do begin to feel a bit too long as well while bland, uninteresting skyscrapers replace the onslaught of charming homes, shops and people you encounter elsewhere. The grand finale does well to dial the cute factor back to 11 though so the game ends on a high, thankfully.
Varying level objectives keeps things fresh
Some stages up the challenge factor
A few too many glitches
Later levels become boring
Overall lack of difficulty