This isn’t the first time I’ve been frustrated by a 2D shooter with old-school inspired animation. It’s clear as day what Enchanted Portals’ heaviest inspiration is (you know, that indie game with the Netflix show), but after playing two preview levels, I’m pleasantly surprised to find how much this title has going for it to stand as its own thing.
Enchanted Portals has you playing as a rookie magician traveling through portals and fighting all sorts of villains with every new world entered. You can run, jump, dash, dodge, and even shoot from your wand from a choice of three different spells. The game allows you to choose between three different difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, and Insane.
The two levels I played were a boss fight and a run and gun stage, and while the Insane difficulty level wasn’t available yet, it took me way more times than I’d like to admit to be able to finish either stage on just the Normal level. Son of a gun (or wand, if you will), these stages are difficult. Things seem to enter the screen every other heartbeat and before you know it, you’re trying to dodge over a dozen things while simultaneously trying to keep your shooting wand aimed at the enemy.
Does it make you want to scream and throw your controller at the wall? Definitely, but it also makes beating the level all the more fulfilling. The boss level I played was fighting a giant cow in a spaceship, and while it was certainly maddening, it never felt impossible. The patterns became more apparent to me the more I replayed the level, and after three or so tries, it was my fault if I got hit or made a mistake.
There’s also this terrific portion where the cow pulls out a DJ controller set, colored lights start beaming across the space station, and your rookie magician has to dodge falling floor blocks as he boogies to the beat of groovy disco music. Coming right out of nowhere, the segment made me throw my head back and laugh the first time it happened, and it made me wonder what other outrageous ideas Enchanted Portals has to offer with its various stages.
The run and gun stage took place inside a Donkey Kong-esque jungle — a pretty big leap from just being inside a spaceship — and that sudden shift in setting made me realize what, on paper, Enchanted Portals’s biggest possible strength is: its dimension-traveling plot makes it a cornucopia for variety in boss fights and level designs. This seems to be what the developers are going for, as the trailer shows a great assortment of bosses ranging from octopuses to witches to Elvis Presley-looking roosters.
Xixo Games Studio has been upfront about Enchanted Portals being hugely inspired by Cuphead, and while it’s easy to dismiss this as just a clone, I see enough potential in this game to garner it a fan base of its own. Depending on how long it is, there’s the possibility of the game running out of fun ideas after a number of stages, but what little I’ve played has me crossing my fingers and hoping for the greatest. Consider this Cuphead fan a certain player when Enchanted Portals releases this September 6th.
A Steam key was provided by PR for the purposes of this preview.
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