“Supraland” is a first-person metroidvania puzzle game that draws heavy inspiration from other video games, defining itself as a combination of “Portal,” “Legend of Zelda” and “Metroid.” That’s a pretty big claim to make, but when you find out that a large portion of this game was created by one person, you really start to appreciate and see just how unique this game is.
Developed and published by Supra Games, “Supraland” takes “sandbox adventure” to a new literal medium. The game, as big as it feels, all takes place within a kid’s sandbox. You play as one of the citizens of the red kingdom — a group of toys that vaguely resemble Gumby — and your town finds out that the people of the blue kingdom are responsible for cutting off the red kingdom’s water supply. Of course, it’s up to you to save the day.
The adventure and exploration side of the game is definitely like “Legend of Zelda,” where you get a sword or a blaster and hack at enemies till they’re dead. The combat is underwhelmingly simple, where you just spam with the sword to kill enemies before they get a chance to hit you back. However, as you unlock new abilities and weapons, such as the blaster, you can find more ways to take out hordes of enemies.
Though the combat is simple, the exploration aspect of “Supraland” is what makes the game so fun. Similar to “Zelda” games, the starting area of the game is surrounded by puzzles that you can’t accomplish until you get new abilities to traverse and unlock new areas. As you explore the sandbox world of “Supraland” you’ll notice a lot of the landscape is created from household items. Beds are made of erasers and wooden cacti make up the local flora, while screwdrivers and pencils are found across the landscape.
Although there is an element of productive backtracking that is signature to adventure games like “Legend of Zelda,” the backtracking in “Supraland” is merely optional and in most cases only useful for minor upgrades like a little more sword damage, some extra health regeneration or some extra coins.
Because the backtracking isn’t required unless you’re a completionist, the narrative of “Supraland” is fairly linear with not much else to do after you beat the game. According to the game’s description on Steam, its average playtime is between 12 hours — if you play straight through it — and 25 hours if you take the time to find all the secrets and extra upgrades. The game’s upgrade system is heavily inspired by “Metroid,” where finding secrets can lead to extra upgrades and unlockables that will make you stronger in combat or give you an extra jump.
Though a lot of focus is placed upon the exploration aspect, “Supraland” shines in its complex, yet fulfilling puzzle design. Many of its puzzles are reminiscent of “Portal” by utilizing a cube to help you complete some puzzles early on in the game. As you unlock new abilities, the puzzles are able to stump you long enough to make you think about how to use your abilities in unconventional ways. For example, the force cube can be used to weigh down buttons but it can also be used to block projectiles, act as a stepping stool to a higher ledge, prop open doors and as a form of light in exceptionally dark areas.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to check out “Supraland,” there is a free demo available on Steam that allows players to play through a lengthy section of the first part of the game. If you find yourself interested, it does sport a $20 retail price, which is fair considering the amount of content it brings. Though the game looks like it’s directed at children on the surface, “Supraland” brings a unique take to the genre that will please fans of all ages, especially with its meta humor and many references to pop culture. Its puzzles are intricate and complex but they’re nonetheless rewarding, like the rest of the game, once you take the time to think about it.