We are currently enjoying what is widely considered to be a golden age of TV, with streaming services, cable companies, and good old fashioned networks producing amazing content across a multitude of genres. Whether traditional weekly water cooler moments or all-weekend bingefests, many of us have become more involved and invested in all manner of TV series. Landflix Odyssey takes this idea of becoming immersed and makes it literal, combining it with the tried and tested narrative of being sucked into the screen, as most memorably seen in Tron. What follows is a retro-influenced platform adventure through an assortment of loose parodies of massive TV hits, all bound up by an arbitrary plotline involving the usual quest for a McGuffin.
The story of Landflix Odyssey, such as it is, sees the lazy Larry, a self-confessed couch potato and binge-watcher, sucked into the worlds of his favourite TV shows when mysterious nuclear batteries are mistakenly put into his remote. These batteries are then scattered through an assortment of platforming levels and he must jump and burp his way through them. The overall feel and plot to the game feels like something out of the 16-bit era, which matches the presentation perfectly.
While I’m still a fan of a retro aesthetic and simplistic graphics, they are at their best when they fit the setting and genre. Landflix is a mixed bag in this regard, as the opening level referencing Stranger Things is the only one that really fits the style. This means that the rest of the game feels like a weird mix of aesthetic and setting, with the handful of series inspirations feeling out of place. The audio is similarly retro, consisting of chiptunes and bleeps but these feel appropriate for the overall presentation.
The first level references Stranger Things and is entitled Peculiar Stuff. This is followed by Elder Thrones (Game of Thrones), Blindevil (Daredevil), Going Mad (Breaking Bad) and The Standing Zombie (The Walking Dead). While these are all hugely successful and influential series, the selection feels odd and scattershot, crossing a number of networks and services. Daredevil and Breaking Bad hardly feel like topical choices anymore, giving the whole game a lack of coherence and relevance. That being said, I don’t expect topicality in my retro platformers, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Each level is broken up into stages unlocked by collecting coins and all have distinctive styles and traversal abilities. Peculiar Stuff offers a gaming version of the Upside Down which enables you to get around obstacles and is perhaps the strongest level overall. You can stun enemies by burping at them before jumping on their heads, but the Upside Down requires you to hold your breath meaning that avoiding monsters is your only option. This level also benefits from being the most fitting for the pixelated style, whilst the challenging platforming feels more planned here.
The Elder Thrones then sees you working at the behest of King John to hack and jump your way to defeating the evil queen, Blindevil plays like Shinobi but with your weapon being a grappling hook of sorts, Going Mad involves you using drugs to slow down time – perhaps more of a Dredd movie reference? – and The Standing Zombie provides you with a crossbow that can defeat enemies and create platforms to jump on. The overall result is a nice mixture of gaming styles that all offer variations on the basic premise.
The level design is mostly good, although there are a few moments that rely too much on frustrating trial and error. Checkpoints are frequent, although again these aren’t always consistently placed, which results in some lengthy patches of repetition. Every main stage contains 100 coins and 3 blueprints to collect, with the latter in particular often being hidden in secret areas. This is one aspect that Landflix Odyssey excels at, though, as hidden areas are always indicated visually making the challenge the act of getting to them rather than blindly jumping at every wall in the hope of finding one. Collecting the coins allows you to buy the next episode (stage) whilst the blueprints open up final hidden stages in each series. It’ss not as challenging as you might think to snap everything up either, making Landflix Odyssey a nicely completable experience (and platinum trophy on Playstation).