Ellipsis
Gameplay 10
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful minimalist visuals that Ellipses sports. It isn’t just another Geometry Wars clone, but a polished and very addictive title where your avoidance skills and puzzle-solving abilities are needed instead of an itchy trigger finger. Ellipses features tons of great levels, spread across eight worlds, and in addition to plenty of replay value, it also ships with a level editor and Steam Workshop support. If you are looking for something fresh and unique, this is definitely not a title you want to miss.

Gameplay: The game is simple to play, but very polished and highly addictive.

Graphics: The game makes excellent use of minimalist but striking visuals.

Sound: The audio complements the on-screen action perfectly

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Ellipsis

Developer: Salmi Games | Publisher: Salmi Games | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

At first glance, Ellipses looks like it is just another frantic single-screen shooter with glowing shapes in the vein of Geometry Wars. That is until you line up the enemies, press the “fire” button, and realize your ship is completely unarmed. You don’t have the luxury of shields either, which means your only means of staying alive is your avoidance skills. Ellipses isn’t just a test of your reflexes either, as many of the levels it throws at you will also test your puzzle-solving skills. The result is a game that is surprisingly addictive and will keep you coming back until you have conquered its more than 150 levels.

Ellipses is presented with a very minimalist interface and drops you into the inky depths of a universe populated by hostile neon vectors. You play as a glowing blue circle, and your task on each level is to dodge enemies while grabbing the circular pickups that appear one after the other. You only need to collect four of these before an exit portal appears, and you can make a hasty escape. However, a fifth pickup materializes along with the exit, but usually in some awkward spot. It is then your choice whether to retreat to safety or risk it all and attempt to get the final pickup. Grabbing the pickups is as easy as moving your circle over them, but watch out as the points inside them must also be picked up if you plan on getting the full “four-star” rating for each level. If you are too hasty, these points can spill out and go bouncing around the level, making them even harder to collect. If this wasn’t enough, you can also go back to previously completed levels and attempt to earn a fifth star by beating the new timer that is added. Of course, grabbing the pickups is rarely straightforward. You’ll need to carefully judge your movements to even reach most of them despite each level in the game being a single screen and usually very open.

The levels in Ellipses can typically be completed in a matter of seconds, provided you manage to avoid all enemies and obstacles. It only takes one touch of something hostile or hazardous to lose, but you can be back and trying again with two clicks. Thanks to the branching paths, you’ll always have other options if you become stuck on a particular level. Gameplay-wise, the game reminded us a lot of the Wario Ware titles, as you are often thrown into a level and have seconds to figure out what is going on and how to react. Not all levels are this frantic, though, as some feature enemies that only move when you do, which requires a more cerebral approach than the typical headlong rush.

Enemies are all simple geometric shapes, but that doesn’t make them any less menacing. Prepare to face foes that explode when you get close, take potshots at you constantly, or relentlessly hunt you down wherever you move.

Later levels also introduce all kinds of obstacles, such as moving barriers, laser beams, and sharp spikes. Despite the large number of levels, you’ll rarely face the same challenge twice, and almost every level features something unique to deal with. One of our favorites is a homage to Frogger, where you collect the pickups while dodging the traffic whizzing across the screen. As you complete levels and unlock new ones on the ever-expanding galaxy map, you get a real sense of progress, and in total, there are eight different worlds to conquer.

Thanks to the minimalist vector-style visuals, Ellipses looks like something you would run into in an 80’s arcade, but it still manages to look very impressive on high-definition displays. The minimalism extends to the entire interface, and you won’t encounter any text other than the end-game credits. The same goes for the audio in the game, which embraces simple soundscapes and effects instead of a big, booming soundtrack. Even the controls are simple but very intuitive. Despite the controller support, we definitely recommend using a mouse for extra responsiveness. In fact, Ellipses is one of the few games that caused us to fiddle with the DPI settings of our mouse to squeeze even more performance out of it.

The short but addictive nature of the individual levels makes Ellipses a great coffee break game, but don’t be surprised if you lose track of time as you get sucked in. We enjoyed the game so much that completing the final level, which is actually part of the end-game credits, was a bittersweet experience. Thankfully, the game also features a level editor with Steam Workshop support, so longevity is certainly not an issue, and neither is value for money. There really isn’t anything negative that we can say about this game, as it offers one of the best pick-up-and-play experiences we’ve had in a long time.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Dual-Core 1.8 GHz or higher
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card with 256 MB of VRAM or higher
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.8 or higher
  • Processor: Dual-Core 1.8 GHz or higher
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card with 256 MB of VRAM or higher
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Processor: Dual-Core 1.8 GHz or higher
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Video card with 256 MB of VRAM or higher
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Tested on Antergos, Arch, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Kubuntu, Mageia, Manjaro, Mint, Slackware, SteamOS, Ubuntu, Xubuntu

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