Review: Sideway: New York
I’m always excited to see developers trying new things with the platforming genre. The very first gameplay of Sideway: New York that I got to see immediately jumped out at me and captured my excitement. Traversing across the sides of buildings in a 2D graffiti world with alternating camera angles looked like it’d provide for some really cool platforming and puzzle segments throughout the game. While Sideway doesn’t necessarily take full advantage of its unique premise I think it’s important to point out that it’s without a doubt a very solid platforming game.
In Sideway you take control of Nox as he follows the evil Spray into the graffiti world of Sideway in order to rescue his lost girlfriend Cass. Nox is capable of jumping, sliding, punching, throwing balls of paint and swinging from special grapple points among a handful of other abilities. Each ability is necessary to take down each enemy type, progress through the level and even for finding hidden areas. If nothing else it’s nice to have a game that puts all of your abilities to use more than just a couple of times. The possible issue that some people might run into however is the controls. While some have blamed unresponsive controls and others pointed to floaty jumping I’ve found it difficult to fully express just how I feel about controlling Nox until recently. It won’t take more than two levels to get used to how Nox handles and for the most part it’s doubtful that you’ll run into much trouble throughout most of the game. However it seems to me that I lacked a certain level of precision over Nox that resulted in a control scheme that, in some cases, felt awkward. This is most apparent in the various cases that I found myself accidentally running into graffiti vines that killed me instantly.
That being said the level design in Sideway flows together incredibly well. With the orientation of the camera changing and nature of how the game plays I’ll admit that I was quite worried that the game would sometimes be too much for my mind to fully grasp. Fortunately the concept of switching camera perspectives and sides of a building while staying in a two-dimensional plane feels like second nature almost instantly. Not even some of the more advanced portions of later levels in the game ever left me confused. Unfortunately Sideway never gets into a level of complexity that I’d want from something like this. There’s a few brief glimpses at what could be really cool and unique puzzles but they are, unfortunately, just a brief glimpse. The game never gets overly difficult and the bosses, with the exception of one, feel like a missed opportunity. Imagine if Portal never got past the complexity of its first few stages. I feel as if there’s a lot of opportunity within Sideway to do something really cool but for the most part it’s missing.
To go along with the graffiti world Sideway features some original Hip Hop tracks from Mr. Lif. For the most part each track fits very well within the mood of the game but with just a handful of tracks it won’t take long until each song repeats one too many times. There’s even one specific track that seems as if it’s on a 5-second loop throughout the whole level.
Sideway also features the ability to play cooperatively with a local friend through each level. I wouldn’t recommend doing this. The camera follows the first player around making it very easy for player two to fall out of view. If player two ever gets too far ahead in the level they’ll vanish and be taken back to where player one is located. Cooperative play in Sideway feels like an afterthought and nothing more.
Nothing is more disappointing to see a game with such a unique idea fall short on its execution. I walk away from Sideway wishing for a more complex and diverse experience. That being said I still had a lot of fun with Sideway and platforming fans should absolutely give it a shot. If you can look past it’s issues you’ll find that Sideway is a solid platforming game with a really cool twist.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Cool new approach to platforming
- Great music on the first few listens
- Plenty of collectibles
What I Dislike:
- One hit kills
- Most of the boss fights
- Imprecise Controls