Full Void is a game you can point to if you need an example of what a “love letter” to a specific game, genre, or narrative theme is. Classic, cinematic 2D platformers like Another World and Flashback are clear inspirations – which makes Full Void just as enjoyable but also sometimes a little bit frustrating.
Starting with the game’s focus on visual storytelling and player interpretation, Full Void opens with an ominous pulsating red portal in a decrepit cityscape. A young teenager flees through nearby woodland, pursued by a wolf-like bio-mechanical robot with a menacing red eye. They stumble into the city outskirts and the adventure begins.
Now, I don’t want to discuss too much, as unravelling and interpreting the story scene by carefully-crafted scene is the core experience – especially given Full Void is devoid of written notes or voiced dialogue that explains what you’re witnessing.
As you push through the city towards a looming, futuristic building with a distinctive “omega” logo, environmental details and brief flashbacks reveal the world as it once was, hinting at the protagonist’s connection to the past. It’s the perfect storytelling method for games with brisk pacing and short runtime, allowing you to piece together your thoughts with few distractions.
Much like the games that inspired it, the gameplay mechanics are simple – in theory. There are clear environmental cues on where to go, puzzles rarely extend more than one or two screens away, and the chase or pattern recognition sequences offer only one correct solution.
You can run, crawl, and clamber around with ease; jump forward to clear hazards; and interact with switches, boxes, and other puzzle objects using a single button. The only equipment you need to manage is a programmable drone that can only be used in specific locations, with a limited string of commands based on your surroundings. You’ll use the same simple interface and grid overlay to operate heavy machinery and significantly weirder constructs as you progress.
The real challenge comes from pulling off exact movements, with careful timing, under pressure – mechanics that can lead to jubilation and frustration in equal measure.
On one hand, it’s incredibly satisfying to pull off a perfect sequence of moves or input the exact sequence of drone commands to get past an obstacle or escape from a pursuing robot with milliseconds to spare. On the other hand, there are many, many ways to die in Full Void, each accompanied by a brief cutscene considerably less gratuitous than its peers and befitting the lower age rating. Uncomfortably toothy robots, high falls, drowning, scalding steam, incineration, and electrocution are just a few ways to go.
If you’re easily frustrated, go in forewarned that chase sequences often feel trial-and-error by design; failing any puzzle or chase is almost always a quick death; and even puzzles that don’t kill you still mean backtracking or waiting for exact timing to start again. Mercifully, Full Void has more generous checkpointing than the classics, so it’s rare you’ll repeat back-to-back chase sequences or successive tough platforming sections.
Returning to the visual storytelling aspect, what brings everything together and will keep you pushing forward is the evocative audiovisual experience.
Full Void is a pixel-art game – no vector graphics or rotoscoped animations – but it shares its visual design with the classics, with a strong focus on intricate, deliberately paced animations for both immersion and gameplay purposes. Every movement, hazard, and puzzle is designed around a grid, which would feel artificial if not for the smooth animations between them.
Despite the 2D perspective, backdrops have an incredible sense of scale and depth, with some objects and creatures moving fluidly between the foreground and background. When factoring in the vibrant, dynamic lighting, it results in a game where everything feels grounded in the environment. Complementing the incredible visuals are a dominant soundtrack and eerie ambience that contribute to an atmosphere that alternates between a sense of wonder and dread.
Wrapping up, Full Void is a solid addition to the cinematic 2D platformer genre. It replicates the best parts of the classics – the visual storytelling and deliberate gameplay – while providing a fresh setting, some new mechanics, and more forgiving difficulty. It’s not going to change your mind if you’ve never enjoyed the genre, but for fans, it’s easy to recommend given how rarely we see a new game like this these days.
Full Void was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on PC, Xbox One/Series S|X, and PS4/5.
Full Void (Nintendo Switch) ReviewFull Void (Nintendo Switch) Review
- Evocative audiovisual storytelling
- Intricate animations, detailed backdrops, unsettling ambience, and a great soundtrack
- Gameplay that both replicates and improves upon that classics that inspired it
- Frequent checkpoints to offset the challenge
- Platforming and puzzle sequences only have one correct solution
- A few trial-and-error chase sequences can frustrate