Ellipsis Review - Minimalism Fine Tuned For PC
Minimalism describes movements in the arts, especially visual arts and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials, or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features, or concepts. With this in mind, developer Salmi Games has now released Ellipsis on Steam. Does a title made with the intention to offer less ultimately enough? -- Find out in our PC review.
Upon starting Ellipsis, you are provided no text or directions. You are greeted by a stage in ambient space and a blue, glowing reticle waiting for you to move. Once you control the blue sphere, the stage music starts and your goal is simple. Collect a number of spheres until a goal appears, you then must simply pass through it to complete the level. This is a welcomed breath of fresh air because the game is designed well enough where you immediately are aware of your goals. No words, just action.
The title seemingly takes place in a strange empty portion of space. I say seemingly because after sometime you'll realize this galaxy is many things but small. Your progression feels more like you're charting a course to planets instead of moving from stage to stage. Stages are bright, beautiful, and thought provoking.
You don't know where you're going, however, you go on because wanderlust compels you to do so. Your reward for doing so is to see how complex these planets can become.
One of Ellipsis' greatest strengths is that its difficulty is organic. Challenges escalate rather slowly, and you'll hardly notice it. In the beginning, things are simple as you just need to reach the goal. Then, obstacles start to show up little by little as you move on. Finally, when you do notice that stages are no longer easy, that's when the game becomes engrossing.
Now, by the time you notice you've naturally become better; as the puzzles and enemies (yes there are enemies) become much more complex nothing will be too difficult for you.
Regarding the PC version of the game, it is far from a simple port from its Android/iOS origins. This PC version comes with a number of new levels. Not to play the numbers game, but the title already has well over 150 levels. So the developer has added more content and more challenges for players that enjoy the shmup experience.
The game also features new sounds. Now the audio production for this title is very well done. Moving to a new platform has improved the experience from a sound quality angle. The ambiance of space, the pings of the orbs, and the hum of enemies are much more noticeable on PC.
The game's visuals are much more vibrant against the canvas of deep space. The shining goals, the glowing bullets, and even your exploding death are pause worthy. To the developer's credit, the game looks rather stunning. I wasn't sure it could be done. Also no matter how powerful your machine maybe, the game runs smoothly.
Expanding the universe
One new feature I must mention is the level editor. This opens a new facet of the game. With this the brilliance, the game gets much deeper. That's a lot considering the number of levels normally offered.
Players are now left to their own devices. The most difficult stages of the game are now child's play. We now have the ability to create a metagame similar but wholly different from the original.
For example, a stage I created is a pure bullet hell inspired stage. You must maneuver swiftly to collect the orbs and avoid the enemies chasing you. Personally, I look forward to what maniacal creations other players will be to produce. Essentially, the player will be able to create their own galaxy as well.
The other biggest addition to the overall experience of the game is the new controller support. The ability to use a pad makes the game much faster compared to the touch only mobile version. Not only does the game move faster, the difficulty has adjusted in tow as well. As such, this new version of the game is more appealing in terms of fast twitch action.
A bump along the road
Ellipsis does have a few blemishes in it's design and execution however. Now, a controller is welcomed but at times it feels too sensitive. It's a minor complaint but you do have to be more aware of your movements.
The bullet hell design with the more difficult stages may seem too much. The key to said stages involves patience and more patience. Its not "easy" but that is no knock to the game. The difficulty is to be embraced for this one of a kind experience.
This is a rare game that manages to do so much with so little. Your skill and puzzle solving abilities are tested progressively across 150 + stages. You'll explore ever-expanding space featuring colorful visuals and ambient music along your journey.
If you were to ask me what is the best version of the game to play? Without question it would be the PC version. I do frown upon saying that gaming on certain platforms is more immersive than others. However, as someone that's played the game twice now, the ultimate experience is via desktop.
Ellipsis is defined as an intentional omission from text without alerting its original meaning.
With this definition in mind, Salmi Games has developed a game that is certainly minimal in it's design and core. In doing so, they've crafted one of the most entertaining mobile titles available. With that said, we can't recommend playing Ellipsis enough. Ellipsis is available for purchase on Steam. You can check my review of the mobile version here.
Review code was provided by the developer/publisher.