Playing With Balls in AtmaSphere

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AtmaSphere is a game about balls. Namely a big, lovesick ball named Ballard and his bewitching beau Ballerina. Ballard must prove his love by rolling through death-defying traps, dangerous hazards, and collecting gems and coin to further impress Ballerina. 

If this description of AtmaSphere doesn’t stir you, then the simplicity of its gameplay might. After all, it is a simple premise, you roll a ball from left to right, avoid traps, and get to the end of each course. There really is nothing else to it, other than using your keyboard to maneuver through tight spots on the map. AtmaSphere is exactly what it advertises, it is a love story between balls, and you happen to be the one guiding them together.

Developer Mazen Games is not trying to make something groundbreaking here. Instead, AtmaSphere relies heavily on its mechanics and its design to carry the experience. After all, making the player care about two balls in love is a daunting task, but doing it through a casual-style skill game makes that difficult. What we are left with is a solid game that plays more like a flash game over a full-length project.

Navigating each level is pretty straightforward. Just avoid the traps. 

What do I mean by this? Well, AtmaSphere is short, easy to play, and provides a perfect little diversion that can last for a solid hour or two. Beyond that though, the game has no staying power, but it also doesn’t really need to do anything else but entertain and challenge the player for a short time period. Those expecting a long, super hard obstacle course in the vein of ‘impossible’-style platform games will be sorely disappointed. 

This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing. Much of the challenge of AtmaSphere is getting through the increasingly difficult courses without much frustration attached. Numerous traps, from spikes to saws, axes, and hammers, litter the latter stages. Careful timing and skill are needed to cross through narrow passageways. Momentum is needed to pass larger gaps. All of this feels great to accomplish, though falling to your death, like any skill-based platformer, can lead to some annoying segments at times. Yet AtmaSphere never really goes to great lengths to offer impossible challenges to the player. With enough time, skill and patience, anyone can complete the game with ease. 

Visually, AtmaSphere is…well, atmospheric in a moody sense. The levels have no real character to them other than the vague medieval-style setting the game portrays it to be. Crates and casks litter the courses, torchlights illuminate your path forward, and the hazards feel old and archaic. The game is beautifully rendered, but the realistic approach to the graphics are at best presentable, and at worst soulless. 

Love conquers all so long as you roll with the punches. 

Where the game does shine, however, is its music. Each level has its own separate arrangements to them, with some vivid orchestral-sounding scores. Some are triumphant and battle-ready; others are subdued and somber. Much of it also repeats a bit from level to level, but it’s barely noticeable because of how enjoyable the soundtrack is. More so than the visuals, the music sets a better tone for AtmaSphere in this way.

Mazen Games has only made two titles so far, but if AtmaSphere is any indication of their work, it is a small indie developer to watch. It’s not the most visually satisfying, or the most challenging, but AtmaSphere is able to roll up a few hours of minor entertainment for those looking for something small to play. For a game about balls, it sure at least makes it fun for a moment or two.

AtmaSphere was played on the PC, with a copy provided by the developer.

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