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Qomp 2 Review: A Cleverly Simple Puzzle Journey into Nostalgia

Platform reviewed: Xbox Series X/S

Also on: PC (Steam and Epic), Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Atari VCS

Price: $14.99

Qomp 2 is delightfully simple, both in terms of its visuals and gameplay mechanics. It successfully captures the essence of the classic game it's based on, Pong. Each level presents cleverly designed puzzles that showcase the game's ingenuity. However, the difficulty is slightly inconsistent, with some levels proving to be significantly more challenging than others. This disparity occasionally led to moments of frustration. Nevertheless, overall, I am thoroughly impressed with Qomp 2 and enjoyed my time with it.

In Qomp 2, the protagonist is the Pong ball. The game begins with a game of Pong, and the objective is to escape from it. Pong was the first game I’ve played, so I found this concept intriguing, and it felt like a nostalgic journey through my own gaming history. There are no instructions, essentially relying solely on trial and error. This might seem like a recipe for disaster, but the game's elegant and minimalist mechanics make it surprisingly effective. With only two controls available, I was able to change the trajectory of the Pong ball by 45 degrees by pressing a button and make the ball dash quickly across the screen using the charge button.

Qomp 2 offers a total of thirty levels, divided into four different levels with various sub-levels. One aspect that I particularly appreciate about this game is the gradual introduction of new puzzle features. The game follows a smart approach to puzzle design, starting with simple implementations of these features when first encountered.

The blue whirlpools in the initial levels are a great example of this. The game doesn't explicitly explain their purpose or functionality, but given that the Pong ball turns blue when charged, I decided to experiment and see what happens when I charge my ball and dash into the whirlpool. The whirlpool halted the ball's movement, effectively allowing me to strategize my next move. As I progressed in the game, the challenge associated with these whirlpools and other new features increased. This pattern holds true for all the fresh elements introduced throughout the gameplay, making it one of the game's standout qualities. The clever use of color in relation to these features showcases the game's brilliant design.

Not only are the puzzle features cleverly integrated, but there are also other mechanics that add to the gameplay experience. For instance, particle flows can redirect the ball's movement, presenting a unique challenge that required me to strategize and find ways to utilize these flows to my advantage. Another mechanic I particularly enjoyed is water, where the ball naturally floats but can be made to sink by utilizing the charge button. Although no explicit explanation is provided, the level design and the simplicity of the button controls allowed me to intuitively understand and utilize this mechanic without any need for any instructions.

Naturally, a puzzle game wouldn't be complete without obstacles and hazards that pose a threat to the ball. These include moving spikes, spike walls, and electric walls, to mention just a few. Navigating through these areas requires precise hits. However, I found myself getting frustrated as some levels proved to be quite challenging, resulting in numerous deaths. The difficulty seemed to fluctuate, with the following levels being much easier. Thankfully, there are two solutions to counter these tough situations: the ghost ball, which guided me by showing the path of the ball, allowing me to follow it and the angles at which it should hit the walls, and the invincible ball. While I frequently relied on the ghost ball, I never used the invincible ball. And for those looking for even a greater challenge, there are hidden collectible crystals throughout the levels that require nerves of steel to get. 

Boss battles are by far my favorite aspect of the game. Each boss is unique, yet they all share one common feature: a specific number of hit points that can only be depleted by hitting the ball into them. Among all the bosses, my favorite are these Pong paddles strategically positioned to guard a corner in the room. Overcoming the room required me to find a way past these paddles and strike the vulnerable areas they protect. This not only unlocks additional traps in the room but also paved the way for me to finally damage the boss positioned in the center. 

Final grade: B+

Qomp 2 showcases clever design with its use of simplistic controls and color schemes in the puzzles. The game seamlessly introduces new mechanics without the need for lengthy tutorials or instructions. One of the highlights of the game are the boss battles, which are uniquely designed and provide a satisfying challenge. Despite the occasional frustration caused by the varying levels of difficulty, Qomp 2 ultimately provides an enjoyable puzzle experience that evoked a sense of nostalgia from my own gaming journey.

Review code provided by UberStrategist PR.



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