Actors or thespians as they are otherwise known are adored the world over. Admired for their talent, looks, and style, but for most, it wasn’t an easy path into the spotlight. Rejected repeatedly and having to do whatever it takes to get noticed is tough. Talent not Included unusually tells this tale.
Developed by Frima Studio and published by Frima Original, this is a medieval platform game with a quirky approach. Set in a mock theatre, you play the part of three desperate actors who will do whatever they can to get their lucky break and fulfil their ambitions.
Talent not Included has a simple yet clever concept.
Challenging platform games are two a penny, and it is hard for gamers to sift through the mountain of titles at their disposal. With 2D side-scrolling adventures to 3D immersive, open-world journeys, little has been missed out. Talent not Included hasn’t followed the crowd, instead, it uses a fixed screen view and a simple but clever key concept. A central cylinder with multiple moving parts rotates at the end of each section. When this happens, it creates a new portion of the level. It’s a unique and wonderful twist to the genre that keeps you on your toes and takes you on a journey even though you stay in the same working space.
The game is split into three acts, one for each character. Each comprises fifteen stages and three boss fights. Once all acts are complete, you must face the main boss, the villain of this bizarre performance. Set in the world of Notthatmuchfurther the three actors must dress as a knight, rogue, and mage. Each has a unique set of skills and must face an array of traps and monsters to get to the goal.
A unique approach, but familiar mechanics.
Its core concept is unique and I can’t recall other games taking a similar approach. But its mechanics and objectives follow a familiar pattern. As mentioned, each actor has a unique set of skills; spinning dash attacks, rolling through spikes, or floating in bubbles and shooting magic. Yet, every other move comes straight out of the platforming rulebook 101. Double jumps, wall climbing, dashing, and more. If you are a fan of the genre, this will feel wonderfully familiar even in its strange setting.
The objectives for each stage are also standard fare. Each level requires you to score the highest amount of points available. You do this by killing enemies, collecting hearts, and gathering sweets. If you avoid getting hit, you’ll build a multiplier of up to 5X the base amount. As the score is tallied up, you aim for three stars which are represented by a golden mask. Two stars are silver, and for completing the stage you are awarded a wooden mask.
A gentle learning curve and predictable bosses.
Talent not Included has a gentle learning curve and its difficulty follows suit. Opening with basic tasks such as; leaping a chasm, jumping spikes, and killing simple enemies, fools you into a false sense of security. This soon ramps up, however; Dodging fire laden bullets, tackling robotic hellhounds, moving platforms, killer wizards, and more. The gloves quickly come off, and what starts as a fun-filled platforming experience soon turns into your worst nightmare.
Each hero has a boss to face; an angry mage, a gigantic bull, and a fiery knight. They’ve taken a disliking to the actors and want to rip their heads off ASAP. Fortunately, they are the most predictable foes you’re likely to encounter. At first, you may struggle against them, but once you know their pattern of attack, it doesn’t change and killing them offers little challenge. The hardest part of this game is overcoming the obstacle to face them.
Talent not Included is a colourful and whimsical treat.
The world of the theatre is over the top, in your face, and very fancy. Talent not Included incorporates all these elements in its brightly coloured, extravagant cartoon world. With a healthy mix of sparse scenes and busy landscapes, it doesn’t overpower you with its imagery. Well designed sprites and smooth performance make this a pleasure to play even when you die repeatedly.
The theatrical elements continued with the whimsical and medieval-themed audio. The lighthearted soundtrack matched the shenanigans that unfolded on the screen, and the theme equally well. The sound effects were good, mostly, but the character noises were annoying and could have been toned down. Overall for an older title, it aged well, and its presentation stands up against the high end modern indie games.
Accessible to all, though tough to master.
I love when a game makes it easy to play and is accessible to all. This inclusive approach piques your interest from the first level and allows gamers of all skill sets to enjoy the action. Tutorial hints are issued as new mechanics are added, ensuring you know what you are doing throughout. Yet, even with this hand-holding, it’s tough to master! Precision and timing are a must if you are to be successful in the latter stages.
This increase in difficulty ensures that there is plenty of replay value. You’ll constantly die, lose your score multiplier, and miss out on the maximum three masks. Cursing your luck, you’ll reset the action and retry the stage. This addictive and frustrating gameplay begs you to return to play it. Completionists will need to be perfect to gain 100% status, as all masks must be earned to claim you have defeated it. Best of luck with that!
Talent not Included is addictive and deceptively simple.
I admit I was hooked on Talent not Included from level two. Its deceptively simple approach got to me, and I kept muttering “just one more try”. Its addictive gameplay should come with a warning, and the hours melt away as you lose yourself in the medieval theatrical world. It’s a game that has aged well, and I recommend you buy your copy here! Three actors, one theatre, and many monsters. I guess now’s the time to shout “Break a leg!”