I was tasked with reviewing Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey for one simple reason: I was the only reviewer available that had a working Kinect. Other than this single prerequisite, I didn’t really know anything about Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey. Instead of looking into the game as I usually do, I decided to jump straight into it and see what I was up against. I’ve not played many games that are reliant on the Kinect beyond superfluous features like attracting enemies with the microphone or, on occasion, snapping Netflix while I go about my business. It was a new experience for me and one that I was nowhere near ready for.
Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is a rather basic platformer at its heart, you play as Commander Cherry, a little cherry who’s one goal is to get to the end of the screen, collecting little glowing orbs on his way. It’s nothing revolutionary. Where Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey decides to be different is the integral use of the Kinect (or PlayStation camera if you play on the PS4). You have to use the Kinect to make platforms for Commander Cherry to travel on. The positioning of these platforms will unlock the glowing orbs that Commander Cherry is intent on gathering.
So I was five minutes in when I realised that the game that I thought looked interesting at first glance, turned out to be a Yoga game (this is why it’s a good idea to research a game before you play). Each pose you successfully complete will be graded on the following scale: “yo”, “Yoga” and “Yogawesome”. The only time I have ever even came close to doing Yoga was as Michael in Grand Theft Auto V, and I sucked at it then. After I managed to clear a space in my home office large enough for me to have enough room to play, I jumped in. I am, in many ways, the stereotypical gamer: I’m a short bearded dude who could definitely use a couple trips to the gym each week. It’s safe to say that I was not fantastic at Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey.
Graphically Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is a let-down, it looks more like a flash game than anything released on the current gen consoles. The backgrounds are dull and lack depth and the enemies are bland. I had hoped the attention that has clearly been missed on the looks of the game had gone into the controls, but sadly that isn’t the case.
Commander Cherry doesn’t respond to controls all that well and I fell to my death when he refused to jump over the tiniest of gaps or got hit by enemies that are stationary alien eye-stalks by trying a new world high jump record instead of the gentle hop I had hoped for. Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is plagued with issues like these.
The game will try to help you by providing upgrades: the double jump and the laser. Neither of these upgrades are available from the start and instead, in order to double jump (something that is essential for some sections) you need a pick-up that grants you a long wispy beard that provides you the ability to jump while in mid-air. The problem with this is when you die by either falling to your death, getting caught by the eye-stalks or hit in the face by a fireball, you lose the ability. I am all for punishing bad players but with collision issues and poor controls, it feels overly harsh to lose the only advantage Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey will provide.
There are issues with the Kinect too. I found that it would often not pick up the ends of my arms or legs, and that made creating my platforms a pain in the arse as well as the lower back and knees. It would also randomly detect parts of the wall behind me, it is not the most accurate method of making your platforms, let me tell you that. You can move closer or further away from the Kinect to change the size of the platforms that Commander Cherry will be jumping on, once again it sounds good in theory but, as someone with no knowledge of Yoga or Yoga positions, I found myself making all kinds of convoluted poses in order to progress. In one section I actually had to sit on the floor so I wouldn’t hit enemies above me (and in one level, I improvised Usain Bolt’s famous victory pose). It is surprisingly hard work as some puzzles will require you to make multiple platforms so that Commander Cherry can traverse huge chasms. After a half hour of gameplay, I was flopping around the room trying anything so that my backside wouldn’t hit an enemy. If any part of your body connects with an enemy, then it won’t let you place it. By the end of it I was glad it was over, it was frustrating more than it was challenging and I for one, get enough frustration without my Xbox offering to share my poses online.
There are ten levels to play through that will be ideal for a yoga-centric family to play but I don’t think there is a huge market for a game like Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey. In theory it is a great idea, one where an entire family can play, help to stay fit and hopefully have some fun while doing it. I can see kids enjoying this title but it is not one that should be downloaded without the proper due diligence. The control system needs finessing, a perkier soundtrack and some attention to detail on the scenery would go a long way to making Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey feel like a worthwhile game. As it stands just now, Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey has many flaws and one interesting concept that is in need of refinement. It could be a fun party game and if you are into Yoga then it may well be worth a look. I can’t say I enjoyed my time with the game, so it was with something approaching relief that I turned off the Kinect, grabbed a beer and ordered a pizza.
Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is a platforming game that incorporates motion capture in order to put YOU in the game, albeit as a platform that Commander Cherry will walk all over. The game is plagued with issues from a control system that is sluggish and unresponsive to penalising you upon every death. The Kinect features are inaccurate and pushed me to the limit of my patience. Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey is one for fans of Yoga, or if you have kids that you want to get into Yoga, exercise and fitness. Kids will probably enjoy this title but it is definitely designed for a niche market.
Graphics – 52/100
Value For Money— 56/100
Overall – 48