Newt One is a colorful 3D Platformer/Collectathon built on the premise of finding hope. The title marks the first game made by team DevNAri. Newt One was made available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 30th. The Steam version was released on September 6th. The Switch release was pushed back until September 12th. The game retails for $9.99 on all platforms.
Newt One has a simple story. Newt, the Chosen One, must save the 4 realms from the Great Slumber. Only Newt has the power to bring back color and music to the 24 stages players will experience. The narrative takes a backseat for most of the game, as the players' experience focuses on platforming and not story telling.
|Every realm opens with Newt gaining new threads, each Elder oddly aware of his measurements.|
Players are ranked on how well they completed the stage. To get all six badges on a stage, one must save all of the land, get every collectible (usually musical notes and parrots) and win without returning to a checkpoint. It is usually very easy to complete a stage.
|No birds were harmed in the making of this game.|
Unfortunately, Newt One's novelty as a sweet, relaxing platformer wears off quickly as the game progresses. This can be credited to how the game has a noticeable lack of polish across nearly its entire experience. It often feels like each idea presented is executed with minimal effort. Issues arise in every aspect of the game, including the design, music, story and controls.
|Some pieces of the environment, like trees, have wonky hitboxes,|
occasionally leaving poor Newt stuck and my perfect run ruined.
Cutscenes use static images of the tiny cast with dialogue in decorative speech bubbles. The text color and bubble color can be so alike, it becomes difficult to read. Dialogue itself is stilted, awkwardly phrased and missing punctuation.
The story Newt One weaves unravels quickly. While Newt One never tries to be Shakespearean in quality, it fails to even align with its nonviolent message. Early on, Newt learns he will be completely erased from existence if he fails his purpose. His only friend mentions facing a similar fate as well. The looming dread of death is really off-beat from the rest of the game, and I feel it massively detracts from the game's tone.
Newt One's core centers on music, and the music here takes away from its tone as well. Part of the game's goal is to deliver a musical experience that dynamically responds to your progress in a level. Newt One never delivers on it. Music simply increases in volume with no other noticeable changes. [Update: After going back with a good pair of headphones, there are extra instruments that get sprinkled into songs over different percentiles. I did have some trouble hearing different additions when playing on my TV.]
Realms only have one theme per place, meaning the same one song plays through the realm's six levels. Hearing the same acoustic riffs gets old and it makes the experience more boring than calming. The lack of dynamic and unique music is quite disappointing.
The largest offenders from my Newt One experience are the controls. Newt floats across stages, making it hard to move without falling off platforms. Jumping is the exact opposite, feeling stiff and unresponsive. It is irritating, especially with how many levels require precise movements or jumps.
|On most stages, the game fails to recognize the first time Newt hits the goal mark.|
This can freeze the game or break it entirely.
Newt One is also an incredibly short game, lasting me only three hours. Rewards for returning and perfecting each stage are minimal. Newt gains new color swaps for his outfits every time he reaches 50 notes in a realm. Collecting all missing parrots seems to reward with an elusive parrot costume, but I never found it for myself. Other tasks gain badges, of which there are many.
I never found myself wanting to return to stages to find every nook and monochrome cranny, mostly due to the frustrating controls. Some levels, such as a few ice ones, were near impossible to complete with how little influence I had over my character. Newt's floatiness mixed with moving stages and slippery terrains meant I was fighting the whole time to properly jump up a ledge. Several stages were like this and it was very frustrating.
It is hard to say who Newt One appeals to. Lackluster completion rewards make it hard to recommend to those looking for a new collect-a-thon. Clunky controls and slow, same-y stages sour the experience for those wanting an exciting new platformer or speed running experience. The life-or-death stakes mixed with the live-laugh-love message hurts the overall story. Music feels flat and clashing colors create a muddled mess.
Newt One is a discordant adventure that struggles to be the lovable and charming title it introduces itself as. The premise is sweet, but it does not save the game from souring.
Final Verdict: Not Recommended
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