Review: Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey (PS4)

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Title: Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey
Format: PlayStation Network Download (128 MB)
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Grandé Games
Developer: Grandé Games
Original MSRP: $13.99
ESRB Rating: E
Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

As soon as I laid my eyes on Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey I was sold. This beautiful creation from Grande Games reminded me of one of my most beloved games of all time, Katamari Damacy. The characters, the colors, the levels; everything about it yelled “KATAMARI!” at me. Then it hit me like a dump truck that even though the game reminded me of a fantastic game from my past, the similarities ended with their looks.

Gameplay:
Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey isn’t your normal action-platformer. Grande Games calls it “… a hybrid-motion control game”. You take control of Commander Cherry as he traverses a strange world. As you progress through each level there will be sections of the path before Cherry that are unreachable except using a jump which introduces the twist: the PlayStation camera. In order to get Cherry from one side of the gap to the other, you’ll use the PlayStation camera to capture a picture of yourself which will then be used as a platform to span the gap. But it isn’t that easy.

Each of these gaps will have yellow orbs floating across them that Cherry will need to collect as he crosses them on your picture. You’ll have to position your body in the correct position so the yellow orbs are activated and that will give Cherry the easiest way to reach those orbs and continue on his journey. Be careful though, you will have a limited number of pictures to place at each gap, and messing up means you lose out on extra orbs you’ll gain after getting over a gap. While the overall goal is to reach the end of each level, you’re also challenged further by completing it with the most orbs you can collect.

As a little tip to help you throughout your journey, calibrate the PlayStation camera via the in-game tools BEFORE you start playing. During this calibration you’ll be able to see just how well that camera can “see” you and what else it picks up as being a part of you. You’ll want to make the room you’re playing in as bright as possible and remove any coffee table, couch, or other obstacles that the camera might mistake as you; trust me. I’ll warn you now though, even with all your work in trying to get the perfect conditions for the camera to accurately detect you, it won’t work that well in-game.

… had to stop playing at times due to frustration …
Throughout my three hour playthrough of the game, I was constantly having to redo pictures because the camera would “lose sight” of my arm, or my head, resulting in an image that wouldn’t allow Cherry to reach all of the orbs and giving me a lower end-level score. Through the first two-thirds of the game I handled the camera issues with little-to-no headache as I knew most of the problems were on my end, not the camera’s, but that quickly changed.

Without ruining the gameplay mechanic introduced around the last third of the game, I spent the vast majority of my time with the game on the final two levels and even had to stop playing at times due to frustration at the poor camera-tracking. It is hard to say if the issues I was having were solely on the camera, on the game, or on my lack of perfect lighting. Whatever the cause, it affected my enjoyment of the game and I’m sure it will affect other people’s as well.

Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey_20150811205252

This is all sad because when the game works like it is supposed to, it is really fun and a blast to play. Incorporating your own body into the game via the camera is a unique twist on the platformer genre. Trying out different positions in order to get Cherry from one location to the other is really fun and it provides lots of replayability. Sadly though the level of frustration I experienced will keep me from going back.

… a very pleasing marriage of sight and sound …
Visuals:
Everything you see in Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey, besides the pictures of you, have been crafted individually by hand by an artist, and that is noticeable. The fact that you can see the imperfections in the art isn’t a bad thing and adds a lot of character to the world that the developers created, resulting in an almost dreamlike world. The visuals complement the audio perfectly, resulting in a very pleasing marriage of sight and sound.

Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey_20150811200357

Audio:
Grande Games intentionally included only the basics of sound within the game to provide a more relaxing theme. Characters don’t speak, only making cute noises, and there is almost no background music, yet it all fits together to help create this feeling of relaxation, and it works.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online components.

… a high score for each level is almost unreachable …
Conclusion:
In the end Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey suffers from the poor decision to rely so much on the PlayStation camera. While the camera is fantastic at certain things, the implementation of it within the game requires that your gaming area have the perfect lighting and other elements needed for it to operate at full power – which is highly unrealistic and practical.

If you can’t achieve a perfect environment for the camera, you’ll be dealing with images that cut in and out every second and parts of your body not being “seen” by the camera. This results in bad pictures being taken and the lowering of your score for that level, which brings an even more damaging result. The inclusion of a high score for each level is almost unreachable because of the strong reliance on the camera. Again, this can be alleviated by possibly better lighting, but I never was able to get through an entire level being close to the high score, due to the camera issues.

Score:
4.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

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  • Keith Dunn-Fernández

    DANG! That’s too bad.