Welkin Road is a first person parkour-platformer set solely in the sky. The only objects in sight are you and the block-shaped masses you must traverse. Seems simple enough right? Wrong. With multiple different ways to scale these surroundings, including many different types of grappling situations, the game forces constant thought in the most elegant way possible. Let’s get into it.
As mentioned, Welkin Road’s only visible setting is thousands of feet into the sky. The atmospheric presentation here is looking good, with cloud based particle effects and matte-like colors. Your surroundings will look very innocent and surreal, which is why you’ll be that much more surprised when you figure out that this is not a cakewalk.
Welkin Road’s gameplay mechanics add even more complexity to the game. Even though there aren’t many foreign abilities added here, it’s the implementation of them all that blends seamlessly well. It’s definitely a learning a curve in many ways, but its a learning curve I was willing to get through because the games overall mechanics and gameplay are awesome. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and any other parkour games that ever come out should take notes. My only issue in this department was the games take on wall-running. I found it much too difficult to successfully execute a decent wall-run. It made trials that had wall-runs a chore, since it easily takes 10 or 15 times to find the right momentum and jumping points to pass one. This is the only aspect of the game that I think should be easier.
Welkin Road is also in many ways a puzzle game. Each “trial” inside of a level demands different types of traversal, and most require you to make use of multiple methods. These realizations come quick, so you’re forced to predict beforehand what you need to do. It’s like you’re piecing together jigsaw pieces to get to the goal. This, and a trial and error element in the game make planning necessary. Which is a good thing.
The game has great level design. It’s always fresh and never ceases to keep me at the edge of my seat. It’s honestly very exciting. Possibly because there’s so much more under the surface than the game initially lets on.
Besides from wall-running, wall-jumping, and lunging, Welkin Road implements a fantastic “orb-based” grappling system. The only places you can grapple onto are different colored orbs scattered around the world. Each different color of orb signifies its purpose. For example, green orbs activate different actions around the map, while blue orbs are all timed, meaning you only have a certain amount of time to latch onto the orb before you’re forced to let go. I like this system a lot. It adds *surprise* more complexity to the game in more ways than one.
Welkin Road also features an alternate speedrun mode, if you want to take a break from its dozen level campaign. With both modes comes a scoring system, telling you the time it took you to complete a level, the speed at which you completed it, and a letter grade indicating your overall accomplishment. This will make you strive to beat your personal high score, which adds a replay factor to the game. You can even get a higher letter grade or score by finding the different secrets hidden around each of the game’s levels.
How can anything, a game or otherwise, be simple yet complex at the same time? I have no idea. But the developer of Welkin Road does. Under the game’s simplistic cloak lies a good, thought-provoking addition to the genre.