The Splashers are in great danger. When a purple-tufted employee unwittingly discovers that Inkorp’s evil boss – the greedy Docteur – is experimenting on his workforce, the young hero soon becomes determined to help everyone escape before anyone else is harmed.
Splasher is touted as the first independent project from Romain Claude, who, as a name that may not be familiar to everyone, has previous experience as a game designer and level designer at Ubisoft. It is his work on Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends that has clearly influenced this colourful 2D platformer, whether that be in how rescuing Splashers unlocks new levels in the way that Teensies do, the suspicious portals that lead to bonus challenges in quarantine zones, or the gold ink that is accumulated from toppled enemies and being cleaned from surfaces reminding me of Lums.
These are unmistakable nods, but that isn’t to say that Splasher never manages to strike out with its own identity. For one, the cartoon world in which it exists is a joy to leap around in, and the gameplay mechanics that underpin the experience never fail to entertain in their challenge.
That largely comes from the ink cannon. While it only has highly effective cleaning water when initially equipped, your progression through Inkorp will soon see it upgraded with reddy pink Stickink and yellow Bouncink. These are substances that you will encounter long before you are able to freely splat them in all directions, and, as you can probably already gather from the names, will see you either stick to or bounce from surfaces.
The level design in Splasher is sensational, the ink soon becoming the magic ingredient to surprise and delight throughout your playtime. Every level has been created with careful precision, allowing the player to become spellbound as they run up walls, along ceilings, and rapidly bounce their way up narrow passages.
With Inkorp Hall acting as the hub world between levels, when you aren’t annoying the receptionist by playfully splashing the bell with water you will make your way to the next level that a luminous arrow points you towards – as long as you have rescued enough Splashers to unlock it. These are all situated in different parts of the gigantic factory, whether that be the Greenhouse or the Bouncink Refinery. This helps to partly compartmentalise the game, grouping levels that each share a particular mechanic before letting loose with everything at once.
Splasher‘s brilliance is clear to see, and it is not hard to come to understand why it has become so popular with speedrunners – especially thanks to the chance to switch to Time Attack mode on the fly, challenging you to complete each level as fast as possible in competing in the online leaderboards. The Nintendo Switch may already be home to a fair few platformers, but Splasher will long linger in your memory for all the right reasons. Slick and tuned to perfection, it’s another Nintendo eShop release that’s not to be missed.