In the wake of a seemingly endless barrage of Metroidvanias and roguelikes, the classic cinematic platformer has become a niche genre. Back in the days of my trusty Amiga 500+, games like Prince of Persia and Flashback pushed the envelope for immersion and graphics and it is from games like these that Full Void takes clear inspiration. Alongside the puzzles and platforming Full Void adds in a dash of dystopian science fiction and an emotional motivation to keep you moving onwards.
You begin Full Void as a teenager stranded in a city controlled by a rogue AI. As you make your way through the ruined environment you get occasional flashbacks to a more innocent time with a younger sibling. These are short moments, but do work well at setting the scene and explaining why your protagonist is risking their life in search of their captured family. It’s not an especially original story and has clear echoes of recent titles like Somerville and Planet of Lana. In effect Full Void falls somewhere between these two, being more enjoyable than the disappointing former but not quite reaching the heights of the latter.
The visuals here are hand drawn pixel art and look great. Animation is spot on as you jump, grab, and climb, whilst enemies have a suitably threatening alien style. Some are simple robot drones whilst others have a more biotech aesthetic, but all will kill you in a single hit. Alongside the fantastic pixel art, the soundtrack is filled with Amiga inspired tunes and everything is accompanied by some amazing atmospheric sound effects. The end result is a game that shows its influences clearly on its sleeves, but isn’t afraid to take advantage of modern techniques to enhance its retro sound and visuals.
The adventure is split between endless runner style chase sequences and slower paced puzzle platformer sections. Chases control well with your character having a great sense of weight and heft, enabling you to judge jumps with precision, and these sections also benefit from keeping a relatively reserved pace rather than speeding things up too much. The emphasis is clearly on carefully pulling off jumps and timing rather than reactions, though there are a few leaps of faith and cheap deaths. Fortunately there is a far more contemporary approach to checkpoints than in earlier games so you rarely need to repeat sections enough to get frustrated.
Early on in the game puzzles revolve around moving lifts and manipulating steam vents with some tricky timing needed to make it through some sections. As you progress you’ll come across a friendly drone that you can program at terminals to carry out specific commands. These sections make for a nice change of pace without being overly taxing and have a neat grid like design during the drone programming part that makes judging distance much easier.
Traditionally, cinematic platformers are punishing affairs, with short playtimes padded out by the need to replay sections many times to progress. Full Void doesn’t follow this approach, with the generous checkpoints meaning that progress is steadily maintained. The result is a game that will be far more palatable to modern players, but the flipside is that it is over relatively quickly. I completed the game in one sitting in less than three hours, but this isn’t necessarily a negative point.
Throughout the game’s runtime there is enough variety in the environments to keep you pushing forward and the mix between puzzling and more straight up platforming is well judged. Whether the game’s length is enough to put you off is a matter of personal preference, but I much prefer a game that has the confidence to finish before it outstays its welcome than one with unnecessary padding. I played through on Steam Deck and it was a perfect fit for the handheld.