TurnOn is a side-scrolling adventure where you play as a spark of electricity turning on all the lights in a blacked out world. It has a very unique concept, I’ll grant it that, but there are a few problems that keep it from being great. The movement, blind jumps, puzzles, and generic nature hurt it more than it helped it.
Very briefly will I discuss the play
You start out in a lab and must get your way out through the city. Sounds simple enough, and at times it is. Puzzles, bosses, and a blacked-out city await your living spark creature. Overall, it’s somewhat enjoyable if you have excellent hand-eye coordination and a nostalgia for old school games. However, some of the game functions make it nearly impossible to keep going.
The first function I had trouble with was movement. You have a very limited amount of room for error. The movement in the game was reduced to the point of annoyance. You are stuck on light poles, wires, and generators for 90 percent of it. The other 10 percent is trying to time a jump onto moving vehicles that have a spark of electricity you must ride on. Since your movement on the poles and wires is so restricted, this makes it tough at times to successfully land onto the vehicles, let alone to figure out where to go next. There also seems to be no rules about when you can move backwards past the generators; sometimes you can’t move backwards through them, other times you are required to do so with no warning.
Another issue is the blind jumps.
I must have killed my little guy hundreds of times taking a leap of faith into the unknown. Sometimes, there was something there for me to land on. Other times, I just ate pavement. Hints would be given on where you needed to be at the end, or the people below you would have crude drawings above their head telling you what they needed you to do. The only issue with this is that it wasn’t always clear how to go about it.
The next problem I had with TurnOn was the puzzles.
The leaps of doom with limited movement were bad enough, but to use them in conjunction with puzzles was frustrating. There was also a boss every so often, like all classic games. There is a specific way to defeat each boss, and you have to puzzle this part out as well. Every boss has one weakness, because of course it does...just like every other game in existence. Jumping everywhere you can think of as fast as you possibly can while trying not to fall and figuring out how to defeat them was too much for me; I did finally manage to kill a boss and move on after many tries, however. The puzzles got excessively harder as you went on, which is typical, but maddening on a game whose insistent on it not being a typical side-scroller.
Finally, TurnOn seemed like it was trying to be a combination of the original Mario, the first couple of Sonics, and/or other similar side-scrolling adventures.
I was reminded of that every time I would try to jump from one platform to the next. Watching your guy repeatedly die when you know you hit the right button is something every old school gamer will recall with both nostalgia and rage. Trying to move on a tiny ledge to avoid the boss fairly reeks of old school games. While the concept of a living spark of electricity is a fresh twist on the genre, the side-scrolling aspect of it is far too generic to stand out. The boss having one particular weakness is something all gamers know far too well. Don’t get me wrong; I love those games, and I'll even admit that I liked this one too. However, generally speaking, it was more like I wanted to beat the levels for pure spite, rather than out of a sense of joy. Granted, this applies to many such titles, which is why it’s both positive and negative.
Overall, I loved the concept.The spark was adorable. I enjoyed seeing the human beings running around like crazy people with little doodles above their head. I liked watching my little dude zip around and turn on the buildings when he hit the generators. The gameplay was a little generic while also being hard at the same time. A bit above average, and has the potential to be great if some of the mechanics could be improved upon. I would say this one is recommended only for hard core gamers with excellent hand-eye coordination, and a love of side-scrolling.