Two Parsecs from Earth review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: ABX Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I?ve written before that when it comes to Ratalaika releases, I have a pretty easy test to see whether I like them: if I keep playing after the Platinum pops, I like it, and if I quit as it?s popping up, I don?t. However, in playing Two Parsecs from Earth, I realized I left out a third category: when I reached the end of a playthrough without a Platinum, I realized I?d have to go back and play even more of the game, and that seems like too much of a hassle to bother.

In the past I might have chalked this up to simply not being a fan of Metroidvanias, but a couple of recent releases from that genre have made me realize I actually don?t mind Metroidvanias when they?re done well. Which, in turn, leads me to suspect that Two Parsecs from Earth is simply not done all that well.

It gets the basics right, don?t get me wrong. The story is simple enough: a sarcastic robot has crashed, and it needs to gather cargo and batteries to fix its ship and fly again. And in the process, the robot wanders around a planet with lots of closed-off areas that can only be accessed once it unlocks more abilities. If you were to draw up a generic metroidvania, that seems like the sort of thing you might come up with.

But there?s nothing that makes the game stand out beyond that. Every room has its own colour, but the blockiness of the platforms makes it seem more like you?re just seeing palette changes rather than anything new. And, more importantly, the platforming isn?t very fun. There?s lots of trial and error, not because you have to learn new skills or anything (though you do, and I?ll get back to that in a moment), but because the game has an annoying habit of making jumps unpredictable, and putting death traps near every exit. The former means that when you have to make any of the many jumps to grab cargo on a ledge, you have to be precise or else you?ll find yourself exploding against the jagged rocks that are inevitably positioned somewhere near the cargo, while the latter means that if you die as you?re finishing a room, you have to go back to the very beginning and do it all over again.

That said, Two Parsecs from Earth does have one mechanic that deserves mentioning: when you unlock a new skill, you have to choose between two, rather than simply getting one, and the skill you don?t pick is blocked off for the rest of the game. Consequently, different choices — say, choosing to dash rather than double-jump, or vice versa — will mean means the game plays out a little differently, which is an interesting wrinkle.

Or it would be if the rest of Two Parsecs from Earth was that interesting. Unfortunately, it?s pretty dull beyond that, and only people who really like Metroidvanias need apply.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Two Parsecs from Earth PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C