Space… the final frontier. Not exactly the case in indie games, and neither is a sidescrolling procedurally generated roguelike with pixel art, blah blah blah. However, the superfluous injects this genre with a large amount of creativity and charm.
The first seconds, well… minutes of the game consist of text telling you the situation: You are going to an asteroid, to destroy said asteroid before it destroys the Earth in the near future of 999 years from now. This is when one of the game’s main themes makes its first appearance, humor is in every spurt of dialogue, in sections of the gameplay, and in the way the United World Hegemony’s staff emails you. The majority of the humor is self-referential, but it is always tucked nicely into the dialogue, and doesn’t stick out as a sort of “hah-hah look at this thing we know exists”. The most prominent example of this is when your ship ai E.D.I.E references that she has depression and monophobia as a result of being alone to herself for 10 years, this is a nice nod to the nihilistic AI in one of my favorite books of all time: red dwarf. Humor like this keeps the tone light and prevents the game from being a boring game with boring characters doing boring things that you don’t care about. Laughing with or at the characters helps you empathize with them and makes you want to keep playing to chuckle a few more times.
The Superfluous isn’t all story, however, (in fact it mostly isn’t) and you will spend the majority of your time diving into a cave to either return with loot to customize your playing or in a body bag to be cloned and try again. So how does this asteroid cave diving control? Quite well actually, you make use of WASD to move and the arrow keys to shoot (or you can make use of twin stick gamepad malarky) which is quite responsive and, although it isn’t anything innovative, feels nice. This is when the asteroid theme comes into play, as your character will move via short hops (a feature that can be disabled in the settings) and has an infinitely usable jetpack. This brings a new way to play, as movement isn’t as predictable than in other 2d sidescrollers, and the jetpack becomes imperative to your survival as you duck and dodge out of harm. Maneuvering through the cave systems quickly become a fun challenge during your play.
But a cave diving adventure is only as superb as the cave you are in, and sadly it isn’t the best environment for your average spelunker. The Sprites are all high quality and simple, making the characters and enemies memorable if a bit basic, and these sprites always served the purpose in the game. The color palette, however, is on the drab side. Space is a dark place, this we all know, but that doesn’t mean the shell color of the space turtle I am shooting at has to be a brownish green, or the space crabs shells, which camouflage best with a red delicious apple (the worst kind of apple). This color scheme needs some serious life kicked into it, as right now it is simply boring. That being said, the art’s saving grace is the quality lighting that most objects have. The enemies all glow in their respective colors, with things like you, and chests standing out the most as a beacon for your eyes to follow. The lighting breathes life into an otherwise dead color palette and makes the environments that much better.
Whilst you are blasting your way through these procedurally generated caves, you will encounter loot, tons, and tons of loot. The loot comes in the form of multiple gems and gold. The gems are used to upgrade certain aspects of all characters (ex: the power of your assault rifle) and the gold is used to purchase new characters to try out. This customization allows for replayability and as a goal to reach, other than your impending doom of course. Everything is balanced and this collecting of all the loot feels good to collect.
Overall, The Superfluous is a nice take on the 2D sidescrolling roguelike Etc. Etc. genre. There is a decent amount that is new, but still, a lot of this game is pretty trite and done before. The art style needs revamping, but the gameplay is still fun and the music is awesome. Definetly check this out for a pretty good time.