Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure
When it comes to lifespan, adult mayflies certainly got a raw deal. These tiny insects typically have a day in which to find a mate and reproduce before shuffling their mortal coils. With the exception of entomologists most people wouldn’t think twice about these short-lived insects, but SuperChop Games have decided to create an entire musical adventure dedicated to them.
Ephemerid is a very hard game to categorize as it blends a couple of different genres in a very unique manner. Sometimes it resembles a rhythm game as you click on objects in tune with a beat while other times it has more in common with a point-click-adventure or puzzle game. However, just like a mayfly the game doesn’t last very long and can easily be completed in a single sitting. Each of the twelve levels are absolutely captivating though, and despite the fact that the challenge factor is very low remains enjoyable. This is thanks to the incredible way that the developers have fused the audio and visuals into what they describe as a “rock opera.”
Whether it is tapping musical clouds in a game of Simon Says as your little mayfly encounters his mate or snatching bees and beetles away from the clutches of a giant spider, the audio and visuals never fails to impress. For a game that is played entirely without vocals or any text describing what is going on it tells a captivating tale of discovery, love, danger and triumph. Since it is virtually impossible to actually fail at any of the levels this is not a game for people who demand a challenge in order to have fun. Even without a tutorial the game is very intuitive to play and it is usually very obvious what you have to do. Having said that, the game does contain a range of achievements that require a little more skill to accomplish and the speed of the levels can be increased for a bigger challenge. This is definitely not a game where you will ever have to worry about time or scores though.
Although originally an iOS title, Ephemerid still looks great on PC thanks to the beautiful handcrafted visuals. Everything in the gameworld was created out of glass, paper and paint before being sprinkled with a liberal dose of particle effects. Highlights include a giant spider with adorable button eyes, cute little paper beetles and colorful night skies. The only downside to the visuals are the large black borders on either side of the screen when playing in high definition. I can understand why this had to be done as the handcrafted visuals would have been distorted otherwise, but it is still a pity.
The highlight of the game is the rocking soundtrack, which features some awesome guitar tracks. I actually found myself replaying some levels because I wanted to hear the excellent music again. Incidentally, once you have unlocked a level you can return to it at any time from the level select menu which is styled like an old school vinyl LP. The visuals and audio blends together perfectly and really adds to the unique feel of the game. Despite being originally designed for use with touchscreens the mouse is a perfectly good substitute. A large blue circle serves as your cursor and without your fingers obscuring the screen, it is also easier to appreciate the beautiful visuals. Your interaction with the game is pretty much limited to tapping on certain items in sync with the music or grabbing and redirecting items moving across the screen. Some might see this as restrictive, but it matches the style of the game perfectly and makes for a very relaxing experience.
While Ephemerid will probably appeal more to gamers on the casual side of the spectrum, anyone who can appreciate good music and unique visuals will enjoy the experience. It might be short, but it is definitely sweet and thankfully very affordably priced.