Semispheres is a stealth puzzle game. The player uses the two analogue sticks, and front shoulder buttons to control two small orbs. The left side of the controller moves the orange orb, and the right side operates the blue orb. Both orbs exist in separated areas but have to work together to reach the goal. The goal of the game is to have both orbs reach the circle that serves as the exit of the level If they get spotted by one of the enemies they will be sent back to where the point at which they started the level. Players start by simple moving the orbs but as the game progresses more complex power ups will be unlocked, such as having them switch from one section to another.
Semispheres is a game in which players will learn how the different power ups work as the game progresses. Even the later puzzles require the player to come up with new ways at looking at the game in order to succeed. Some puzzles even require the orbs to get caught by the enemy in order to progress further; something that you do not usually see in puzzle or stealth games. Having to control two bodies at the same time with the analogue sticks may seem counterintuitive at first, but mostly you will only have to move one at a time. The few occasions that require synchronous movement come at a point at which the player has had enough practice with the controls to make it a reasonable task to achieve.
Semispheres isn't a long game, depending on whether or not you get stuck it should take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to complete. In theory the game has a level select mode but this only allows you to play other levels currently available. It does not allow for backtracking. Once the game is completed it resets. So if you want to replay a level you will have to replay the game up to that point.
There is a story to the game, sort of. The game is separated into 13 chapters of 4 or 5 levels. Upon completion each chapter will reward the player with a comic that fits together with the others to form a story. There is no dialogue, with the art having to convey all the meaning by itself. For what it is, it is a good story. It is a fairly basic story of friendship between a boy and his robot that continues into adulthood. It is a story that is well put together, but it doesn't seem to have much of a connection to anything that actually happens in the game. Do the orbs represent the boy and his robot? Is it supposed to connect with the theme of cooperation present in the game's mechanics? The game doesn't bring up a reason for it to be included that really ties in with the rest of the experience.
The aesthetic of the game on the other hand meshes perfectly with the core ideas of the game. The level hub is reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The levels, and the orbs are made using gentle cores, and the music is a soft hum that will fade into the back of your mind as you play. This is a peaceful game, best suited for those times you want to play something relaxing.
The core mechanics at the heart of Semispheres are sound, and the aesthetics blend with those mechanics perfectly. The problem is that they just aren't supported by enough content. It is too easy to breeze through this game. Even if you want to revisit it, arbitrary restrictions make it more inconvenient to do so than it should. These factors let down what could have been an amazing experience. It is still a worthwhile take on an interesting concept, but it could have been better.
SEMISPHERES / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: VIVID HELIX / PLATFORMS: PC, PS4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW