When young Mike Altman penned the now famous refrain, "suicide is painless," it's very probable that he had absolutely no idea just how wrong he was. To be fair to the then wunderkind song writer, though, this was because he wrote the lyrics to the MASH theme song forty years before he would have the chance to play the challenging platformer, Quietus, by Connor Ullmann.
In this dark test of platforming skills, you play the role of a man no longer willing to bear the woes and hardships of waking life. No sooner are we introduced to our protagonist do we find that he has danced the hemp fandango, fleeing the land of the living hoping for a taste of respite. What he is greeted with instead is the forever grinning face of the Grim Reaper and a curious proposition: let life remain extinguished or brave the perils of Hell. Should you make it out the other side unscathed, your life will be restored, this time with the measure of happiness lacking in your previous attempt.
To navigate your way around the underworld you'll need only your [arrow] keys to run and jump. At any time you can press [R] to return to the level select screen, and once you're there you can clear your progress with [C]. Finally, you can use the [space] bar to forward through cut scenes and cut short the death sequence that you will see a lot. All you have to do is guide your little skeleton man down to the open pit at the bottom of the level.
Sound simple? That's only because I haven't gotten to the bit with the pixel perfect jumps, the lava monsters, the wall worms, the ghosts, spikes, the little red demons that chase you, the swinging spiked balls, the white chomping monsters and the little green guys that sneak around and send you soaring upward (usually into a waiting trap of some sort) if you unwittingly land on them. Those things might complicate matters a little bit. No, all things considered, Hamlet's metaphor of, "slings and arrows," might have benefited just a bit from the addition of giant lava lake worm monsters, and our Mr. Altman may have been better informed because of it.
Analysis: Quietus is the kind of game that platformer enthusiasts live on. Developer Time uses his morbid subject matter to cast you into the darkest pits of hell both literarily and physically, and it's a blast.
The controls are responsive, neither particularly tight nor loose but instead a happy medium between the two. Hit detection is for the most part very accurate; it took getting stuck on a level and trying many times before I detected just a little bit of give, and that was actually in the player's favor. Also sometimes the game can be a little bit too generous when you get close to the goal (though I'm sure most the time you'll be thinking the game isn't being generous enough). My one peeve from a technical standpoint is that Quietus does not provide an alternate jump button. For puzzle platformers and less punishing platformers using the up arrow is fine, but when it comes to skill and reflex titles, being able to comfortably use both hands is a must.
Level design is actually pretty nice and gives what is to me one of the game's neatest little quirks. That being that the game looks and feels much harder than it actually is. Jumping has to be precise and the timing can be tricky but for the more skilled player you may find yourself thinking, 'Wow, that wasn't quite as hard as I thought it would be'. Level composition scores another victory in that you are frequently introduced to new obstacles and traps, keeping the game fresh and delivering some nice "oh wow" moments. And while I say the game is not as hard as it looks, don't let that fool you. It definitely throws some serious heat at you, especially once you get to the late twenties among the forty levels. And just as Meat Boy had the carefully placed bandages and MoneySeize had the ultra hard coins tucked away in bonus stages, those looking for serious bragging rights have the option of going after precariously placed treasure chests.
This quality and variety of level design and innovation helps disguise the fact that aesthetically Quietus gets just a little bit stale. I appreciate the style, don't get me wrong. I have a hard time saying no to big, blocky pixels, and one can definitely see some influence from the Knytt games. But while I appreciate the style and like how Quietus dances a fine line between cute and foreboding, the visual monotony starts to drag. The background never changes, and there's no music, leaving a scant few sound effects as the only aural stimulation in the game. More eye and ear candy isn't exactly necessary, per se, but would have been appreciated.
While simplicity adds to Quietus's charm, it also results in a design flaw or two. Perhaps one of the worst transgressions is how difficult it is to distinguish between spikes and the rest of the gray fuzz that lines most of the surfaces you come in contact with. Speckles of red, for instance, could have gone a long way to alleviate confusion.
On the whole, Quietus offers up an excellent platforming experience for fans of the genre ranging from all skill types. With a comparably shallow learning curve, the first dozen or so levels do an outstanding job of offering up well paced action and a sense of achieving the impossible, while those craving a real challenge shouldn't be disappointed by later levels which dish out some challenges that require precision timing and pixel perfect placement. It may not be the greatest platformer out there, but it's ambitious, well-built, and most importantly, fun... so long as you don't mind dying over, and over, and over again, of course.
Ah... pure platforming goodness. I'll never get tired of this.
I like the lack of a lives system combined with short levels, so that I'm rarely forced to redo an obstacle I already overcame. The difficulty curve seems just about perfect so far too (I'm on level 28).
Wow! Thanks very much for the review! I'm in the process of making the final update for the game, and I'll be incorporating several of the suggestions, such as that I will make changes to the spikes to allow the player to differentiate between them and the grass better, a new scoring system will be added, a new jump button will be made, and I will try to gather up some music for the game. Once again, thanks for the wonderful review!
Which is right before level 29, when the difficulty becomes too great. I can't manage the 2nd jump from the bottom left involving three different chompers.
Love the art, especially the combination of soft glow and hard pixels in the lave.
Ok. Level 21 ends me. I'm not that good. But nice as hell!
how does a person open up the little treasury chest?
Press the down key :)
Made it to 33 so far. Love the difficulty and smallness of the levels. You can also skip the death scene with space bar and do a quick restart (death, but you're already dead! or maybe just halfway dead).
Frustration level reminds me of Meatboy. Hmmm, I should revisit Mr. Meat, don't think I finished the player pack.....
jumping on the green bunnies is fun too, though can sometimes launch you into a patch of spikes or swinging ball.
I am loving this game so far. You run at just the right speed and I don't slide or overjump like crazy like I do in a lot of platformers.
Can someone help me with level 16?
I can't get past the giant worm that shoot out of the lava pit.
Level 39 triggers the ending, even though Level 40 is the last level. You probably knew that, though.
Maybe I missed something, but I didn't see anything to inform me of which level you're on without exiting and checking the level list. It'd be nice if the game popped up with numbers and level names, partly to encourage you (almost there!) and partly to add some 'reward' for completing stages, even if it was just to see a silly name for the next level.
It's an average game, but it's good to see the developer taking the time to improve things. Hopefully we'll see him back again with an even better offering next time.
help with level 16?
There is a key to go back to the level select screen. I forget what it is, I just randomly hit a bunch of keys on the keyboard.
Gave up at about level 30. The controls are way too sticky and frequently unresponsive.
For me, the ending leaves a lot to be desired. The one I got was
just a screen saying something like "congratulations, you won and returned to life with riches." The beginning seemed so emotional and morbid, I was expecting an equally emotional ending.
However, I didn't collect all the treasure chests. Hopefully you get a better ending if you do?
Pretty sure I nabbed every chest, and the ending was the same. *snap*
To get past 16:
Jump a little past the ledge to trigger the worm to jump up, then fall back on the ledge and jump to the other side quickly.
Thought it would be moodier than this. Not only was I thoroughly disappointed by the lack of the content, but the difficulty of the game caused me to give up at Level 28.
The controls were often very bad, either acting sticky and unresponsive as one of our guests said, or they were WAY too sensitive, in which case I kept running into one of the various pitfalls that seem to be in league with the controls and come out of nowhere as soon as it happens.
Sorry, but the look, the name, and even the description gave me the impression that this would be something just as deep as "The Majesty of Colors" or "Today I Die", and I was instead treated to a device of pure frustration with absolutely nothing to hold my interest.
For the live of me I can never manage to get past level 11.
Pretty neat, but for the love of pete, why did the sprite HAVE to have a black outline that counts as part of the hitbox, when you're set against a black background??? So. Evil.
This game is awesome
would be awesomer if you could do slo-mo :D
I did have slight problem with the controls, It would seem to suddenly freeze for a mere milisecond, but it wouldnt pickup my key presses
I usually dislike ultra-hard pixel perfect platformers, but that's because typically you're trying to do something trivial that has been made artificially hard by bad controls or dynamics (like the one where the tutorial had you hopping along parallel sets of ladders and the controls were simply so off that it became a "challenge" - can't remember the name of the game).
This one, however, has you doing cool things with good controls. For me at least, the controls were smooth and reliable, so it was all about my timing and skill.
I rather like this but boy is it tough!
21 is preposterously hard... and so it ends for me :(
So um. Is there any difference if you collect all the chests? Because I think I got all of them, and my ending was apparently no different to Blahp's...
Usually I get bored with these types of platformers pretty quickly, but since this one allows you to return to the last level you were on even after close the window, I find myself keep coming back to it. Right now I'm on level 31 or 32 I think, so I'm almost finished. Seems silly to quit now!
It is really hard though, and the repetition can be a real deterrent. It is so frustrating to get past one part of a level after so many times, only to die and have to do it over.
Oh and another thing I think could make the overall game a little better is not having to get the chest EACH TIME you restart a level. Once you accomplish that once, I think it should stay gotten. I hate having to go back to get chests when I die!
Tight controls, high difficulty, retro graphics... this is awesome. A very well-done game.
However, and I know this might sound a little silly, but with the controls as tight as they are, I think this game could have gotten away with being a lot harder. Some more levels that require near-pixel perfect precision (such as 35) would have made it a lot more satisfying.
And speaking of satisfying, I agree that the ending
seemed... unfitting. The character's supposed to be looking for happiness, and given the emotional tone of pretty much everything else about the game, that fact that he found it in material wealth just doesn't seem right.
Because the ending occurs after 39, I thought it was a fake, and that I'd get the "good ending" for beating 40. But not only did I get the same ending, the level was a joke (beat it on the first try, with the treasure).
And I honestly can't figure out what the treasure does, but it was fun collecting it in any case.
An awesome game though. The only thing it's sorely lacking is a way to tell which levels you got all the treasure from, but otherwise quite solid. Great job. =)
Wickedly stuck on 35. :(((
Ah, powe of the post. Stuck for two days, and suddenly I get it. :)
Gave up on level 16, myself. The main problem is that you lose all control during the screen-shake as the worm comes out, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid despite rather obviously being able to clear the jump before it hits *if* it continues to register moving left instead of stopping mid-air as the worm rises. Blah.
I liked this game, despite how I usually feel about these kinds of platformers. The game is very difficult, but levels are short enough that it doesn't take an extreme amount of patience to complete (in contrast to Meat Boy).
I sort of wish the ending were more satisfying though. An end scene showing the person's reincarnation would be nice.
I liked this, it was challenging and fair except for 2 things:
- Every 20 seconds or so it hangs for half a second, which pretty much kills that run
- The green slugs are cute and all, but the way that they randomly spawn and cause bounces seems super out of place in a game like this. A few times one randomly got in the way, screwed up my carefully practiced sequence, and killed me. It only took a few such deaths before I hated this aspect of the game, its decidedly unfair to randomly cost players their effort on a hard level.
I have finished programming the very last update and I'm currently waiting for the music (the composer said he'd have them all finished by tomorrow) but here's a little list of changes that I've seen through these comments and have implemented (one gives away an ending bonus!):
-"Z" will also allow the player to jump.
-Chests will be counted on the screen; a red square goes around levels that you have obtained them.
-Chests are in every level.
-Because of the lack of happiness with the game's end, I have decided to add a little bonus if the player completes all the levels with all of the chests. They will be invulnerable to everything except lava, and can wall-jump. It's a bit enjoyable to crush those levels with that ;)
I had issues with level 11 too until I realized that if you went really fast you could avoid the worms eating you. I still beat it the HARD way though.. jump right onto the right edge, jump from there to the left edge, jump down.
Great fun but level 29 is killing me. Literally killing me over and over again...
cluffy, me too.
Anyone have any tips for level 29?
For level 29, what you want to do is get down to the bottom where the spirits are, and then jump over to the empty platform. Once there, as the ghosts come across, wait until one is to the right of you moving right, while the other is about to bounce off of the left wall. Then, jump straight up (to avoid the ceiling worm), and then move right as you fall and jump as soon as you hit the platform while still holding right. You'll avoid all the worms, and then you can run to the goal :)
I wanted to beat this before looking at the comments so that I didn't accidentally get any spoilers, thus I just beat level 40 and got all the chests, only to see that there is going to be an update!! Looks like I'm going to be coming back for seconds, this game certainly warrants it. If you're doing an update anyways,
I would like to see a more satisfying ending sequence, currently it feels much too... bland? Shallow? I was hoping something more substantial than money would make this person want to return to life. Thats just my opinion though. Great game!
Fun and challenging.
I agree about the end.
I thought that
you would become the new death incarnate
My major problem with the game was it got repetitive. What was good about Meatboy and Money Seize was that they gave more variety. Wall jumps and double jumps add so much to a platformer, this one only had one jump and you couldn't even control the height. Disappearing blocks just made me mad and didn't add much to the game in this one. I felt like i was playing the same level over and over with a few objects being changed out. I've done 100% on MB and MS, I'm only on level 29 and I'm having to force myself to try and finish. Great art, but some serious serious game mechanic flaws.
This game has been updated with a soundtrack, better graphics for spikes (for instance), more chests (I think) and unlockable bonuses if you get them all... addictive
Quietus, oh Quietus. I can't decide whether I love or hate you--perhaps it's both. You anger me, and I scream things that we both know I don't mean--that I hate you, you're a poor excuse for a platformer, and I'm leaving now and never coming back. And then, the next day, after having thought about you all night, I run back to my computer, and continue my cycle of self-destruction.
Wow. This game seems to bring out a very emotional side of me. Or maybe I'm just crazy.
I enjoyed this game alot, but i had to quit at lvl 33.
When you go to the game, scroll down and it tells you how to open the level select screen which also tells you which levels you have gotten chests on.
i really liked the soundtrack for this game. it's really well made. however i do think that all games, no matter how good the bgm, should still have a mute option for when the same tune gets repetitive after an hour.
Ohh man, stuck on 16 -.- . By the way, you can also jump with 'z'. It's a FlashPunk game, and z is usually the jumping default. :D
Stuck on 25, was directed here by Quietus 2.
I got to like, level 37 and just stopped playing before I'd got too frustrated. It's not a bad game overall, it's a fair attempt at a hell-run sort of platformer but there's a few things that could improve it. To get all the gems in the chest on level 35 you have to be pixel perfect to not hit the spike wall, it's completely absurd. I spent more time dying trying to get that gem than on any other aspect of the level, because the guy would sometimes only move one pixel but then suddenly pip forward into the spikes on the next tap.
With hell platformers, *everything* needs to be precision perfect, but in this game the sensitivity of movement becomes a major source of annoyance in the last several levels.
And those little worm guys? I always only found them by running into them! X(
I mean it's not too difficult to see them if you're looking, but they're a bit too close to Kaizo traps for my liking.