Worldless was provided by Thunderful Publishing for review. Thank you!
This game was tested with a Steam Deck LCD. OLED testing is coming soon.
Worldless is an interesting game. It is a Metroidvania-style 2D Platformer kind of affair, with a focus on solving fairly simple puzzles and executing timed commands in a turn-based combat system. It can feel a bit minimal when it comes to the visuals, but this is a great experience nonetheless, with its enjoyable combat.
The game adopts a fairly minimalist approach, not only in terms of visuals but also its story. Dialogue is limited and always shown via text. Ultimately, you're put into the game world with basically no direction, so you're free to explore as you wish, which means you can also end up in areas with very strong enemies without any warning from the game.
My experience with the game's "puzzles" was a bit bland. They seemed to always consist of the same basic idea of using the "Y" button at certain points to make platforms or jump pads appear, but the game's combat is what makes this worth playing.
The combat utilizes turn-based, or perhaps more accurately, time-based commands to fight. When your turn begins, you have a few seconds to execute your attacks and combos, using a mixture of physical and magic attacks, to break through the enemy's shield and attack their life directly. When your turn is over, the enemy will try to do likewise to you, but you can press a button at the right time to defend against their attacks.
This creates a very skill-based combat system that greatly rewards reaction timing and the ability to read enemy attacks as they are about to happen. It's very satisfying when you get it right and execute what the game calls a "perfect guard," which can give you bonuses and means your shield stays strong under the enemy's attacks.
Speaking of skills, the game has a rather extensive skill tree, considering the length of the game itself. This allows you to strengthen your shield, unlock new attack combos, or give you more time to execute your commands. This helps keep the combat feeling fresh throughout the playthrough and is a nice addition.
The visuals are minimalist and pleasantly styled, in my opinion, they do their job and make it easy to discern points of interest from general scenery. I'd hesitate to call it "beautiful," but it's certainly appealing at points. And I would never describe it as "ugly."
I liked this foray into the Metroidvania genre. The combat is the highlight here for me, and pulling off combos and executing perfect timing is well-rewarded. The skill tree adds variety to your combat options over time and helps the game feel fresh throughout.
But how does it run on the Steam Deck? We've got some good news for you!
Worldless starts quite well on the Deck. The game boots with a 16:10 resolution, and there is a nice notice that the game is best played with a controller. And we can confirm that this is the case, the game plays beautifully on a controller and was designed with it in mind.
There are no graphical options here aside from resolution, which we don't want to touch, so we can't "optimize" the game itself. All the settings that we adjust will be in the SteamOS Quick Access Menu.
First, we'll set a 60 FPS/Hz lock in our SteamOS settings, then put a 6W TDP limit on. Worldless is a very lightweight game and can often hit 60 FPS with a lower TDP limit than 6W, but in combat or when many particles are in play, it causes drops. A 6W Limit holds us nicely at 60 FPS for 99% of the time, and the odd dropped frame during combat wasn't really noticeable since the visuals are pretty busy anyway during those points.
With such a low TDP limit, we can squeeze close to 5 hours from the Steam Deck's battery here. Because of that, I recommend just playing this game at 60 FPS. Battery draw varied between 7W and 9W. When doing platforming elements and exploring the world, the battery draw stays pretty low, and when in combat, it tends to edge up towards 9W of usage. Regardless of what you're doing in the game, you should expect at minimum 4 hours of battery life from a full charge.
I did a test at 3W TDP Limit to see if that would help improve battery life, too. In this setting, we had to drop the FPS Lock to 40 FPS; however, the battery draw remained similar with maybe only an extra few minutes added on. Given the timing nature of combat, 60 FPS is the way to go here.
Ultimately, I found that when you're running this low of a TDP limit, your screen brightness will have a large impact on your battery. I always play at 100% brightness, but if you drop to 50%, you can save a good 30 minutes of battery life, if not more.
Worldless has a menu just for accessibility and has a few options to help people enjoy the game.
You can adjust controller vibration, the amount of camera shaking, and "screen flicker," which we presume is for the benefit of those with photosensitivity. You can also disable tutorials and adjust the gamepad symbols between Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo.
The last option is a bit of an odd one, but it does make sense, as the game uses on-screen controller symbols and requires you to press them in order at points, so having the correct symbols for your controller on-screen is very helpful.
Worldless was an enjoyable experience, although the game is a bit short, seeing as I gained the majority of the skills in the game within the first 2 hours. The visuals are appealing and the combat system is great, feeling especially good when landing that perfect combo for massive damage. The puzzles are simple, but as I'm not much of a puzzler, I can't complain about that! The core gameplay loop is figuring out where you haven't defeated enemies yet and navigating your way there to defeat them. Still, as both the combat and traversal mechanics hold up well, it's a perfectly satisfying gameplay loop.
The game runs great on the Steam Deck, with no need to adjust in-game settings to achieve good performance. If you want a Metroidvania to play on your Steam Deck, Worldless may be that game for you. It holds a "Verified" rating on Valve's Steam Deck Compatibility testing, which is completely accurate here, and "Very Positive" reviews from Steam users at the time of writing this review.
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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Worldless is a short yet entertaining foray into the Metroidvania genre. And the performance on the Steam Deck is fantastic.