One of the most accurate titles for a game I’ve ever seen.
Almost There: The Platformer flies in the face of one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines: “What’s in a name?” Like many in the platforming genre, Almost There features a small white square charged with navigating its way from the beginning to the end of over 150 small stages. In your way are spikes, lasers, homing missiles, and electric barriers that must be carefully navigated around. It’s good but not great, with some unique elements that are surrounded by largely familiar fare.
After booting it up, Almost There prompts you to start with the first stage in the first of three worlds. After beating a handful of subsequent stages, it suggests you try the second world and moves you to another beginning stage; this happens one more time for the third world. The guided direction to each world was an interesting element, but it also reveals a lack of depth very early on. Each world has a different soundtrack and 50+ stages to complete, and the environments in each world use a different color palette and throw different obstacles at you. It’s a nice change of pace to complete 10 or so stages in one world and then move over to another world for more variety, but it would have been nice to see the same number of stages spread across a few more worlds. Doing so could have helped to avoid some of the monotony that comes from 55 stages set against a light blue background that involve, for example, jumping over spikes.
A timer in the top-right corner of the screen compels you to complete each stage as quickly as possible. Reaching the end of a stage rewards you with a star, but you can earn up to two more by beating the stage under a certain time limit. The stars and timer add to the challenge and replay value of Almost There, but without online leaderboards you are only competing against yourself. Each stage also keeps track of how many tries it takes for you to get to the end, and because of the high degree of difficulty associated with some levels, attempts can easily get into the mid-double digits. Contrasting with this is how randomly easy or simple some of the stages are. You might fail 15 times on stage 11 of world two and then complete the next three stages without dying once. There is certainly a progression in the difficulty but also odd peaks and valleys.
The unique mechanic that helps Almost There stand out amongst its peers is the way it uses the right stick, rather than the jump, to scale walls. Your square can stick to any wall, and you jump out and up from the wall using the right stick. Effectively, each leap off the wall allows you to go out and then come back in, rather than just jumping or sliding straight up. The action takes a little getting used to but it eventually feels right and compliments the basic running and jumping mechanics, all of which are solid and responsive.
Almost There is not quite there: it’s a good platforming game that doesn’t really take risks or do anything new. Fans of the genre will enjoy having another set of stages to struggle against and triumph over, and the star system gives players a reason to return to previously conquered levels. However, to say that the eShop is flooded with platformers would be a gross understatement; I’ve reviewed half a dozen myself in the last year. Almost There: The Platformer certain lives up to its name, but it doesn’t do enough to separate itself from other platformers. It’s competent and well-made but ultimately uninspired. This is a game you will have fun with and then completely forget about. There are better platformers on Switch, but this one is worth a look if you feel the need to test yourself every time you see a gap or spikes that beg to be jumped over.