LXD Red Honey is an astonishingly good free metroidvania that owes something to psychedelic bees

3 weeks ago 42

My pick of Metroidvania Month 24

A scene from metroidvania platformer LXD Red Honey which looks like a layered spread of coloured diamonds and squares and triangles Image credit: sarn / OvergrownRobot

Sometimes I have proper critical thoughts about games and sometimes I am Marge Simpson giving her opinion on a potato. Take LXD Red Honey, a free 2D metroidvania created in just 18 days for the Metroidvania Month 24 jam by sarn and OvergrownRobot, with playtesting by Oroshibu. I just think it's neat. So neat.

Let me try to flesh out the ways in which it is neat. Firstly, the world is sort of Loco Roco by way of Sonic Mania - clean shapes and flat colours that may look like a pastiche of modern abstract art pilfered from VectorStock, but which reveal themselves in motion to be wonderfully tactile and bouncy and clattery. Secondly, it has an enemy who juts its head out of the ground like a garden eel, screws up its face and shoots squeaky, slow-moving rainbow beams at you. These beams richochet, sometimes catching you out if you try to hop over them, and thus, encouraging you to consider the layout before approaching. Neat!

In broad strokes, it's both a condensing of metroidvania staples such as ye olde aerial dash, and a witty platformer in the spirit of Mario, except that instead of a tenacious plumber you play a small white square with an evolving ability set. You can shoot short-ranged energy blasts from each side of the square, which means you can only attack (initially) across the horizontal and vertical axis. Enemies, however, come at you from all directions and indeed through surfaces. Going by the 30 minutes I've played, beating the game is an exercise in wrestling with this disadvantage and then acquiring abilities that let you bypass it. Neat!

It's got a story, sort of. Here's some preamble from the Itch page: "A strange machine appeared in the sky, breaking down much of the plant life across the region into their core elements, including your humble garden. Collect and harness the power of these fragments in order to rebuild your world piece by piece. Explore 6 unique areas in order to find and defeat the evil that sought your world's destruction." The need to gather elements also gates your progress: you'll need to find enough water drops to grow a plant you can jump on to reach the next area, for example.

As for the title, LXD stands for "Liquid Xtal Dream", and red honey, I gather, refers to a kind of honey produced when bees feed on rhododendron flowers. In real life, red honey contains grayanotoxins, which confer hallucinogenic effects in small doses. Guzzle down a lot of red honey, however, and it may kill you. Neat? You can download LXD Red Honey from Itch here. It's really good. It's definitely worth donating to the developers, if you have cash to spare.

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