Trash Quest has all the characteristics that Metroidvania fans have grown to love but on a compacted scale. Francis Vace and publisher RedDeerGames have produced a game that is a joy to play thanks to the precise controls as well as fun and familiar traversal abilities. There are a few issues I have with the game overall but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Francis Vace doesn’t waste any of our time bogging us down with a complicated narrative, instead we get a short story set up at the start of the game that shows us a display screen running a diagnostics check for the space station Deliverance. When it scans for unauthorized lifeforms the display reads one, and the automated defense system is activated. We are then introduced to our protagonist, a loveable raccoon (trash panda), who is a stowaway in the station’s trash sector.
Great Metroidvanias always have two traits in common. The first is in regards to traversal in the game world. This is a combination of the actual movement mechanics and the abilities that you gain while playing through the game. Trash Quest contains a lot of DNA from the precision platforming sub-genre, and the movement mechanics are tight, allowing the player to feel like they have a high degree of control. The abilities that the raccoon gains while exploring the game world aren’t groundbreaking; we have the double jump, a hover, and a dash, but tying them to a stamina system allows the player to experiment with traversal in a way we don’t usually see. If you have three stamina dots you can jump three times, or you can jump, dash, jump, or dash, dash, jump, or… you get the point right? To clarify, your energy is instantly replenished anytime you land on a surface. Our trash-loving raccoon hero also has a basic blaster attack that can be fired straight ahead with the right trigger or right button; however, despite having this attack ability, the emphasis is definitely on moving around the environment. The only exceptions are the boss encounters. There are seven in total and they will all test your precision, reaction speed, and memory; although the Boss’s movesets are on the simple side, some of them can be tricky to dodge until you get a feel for them.
The second pillar that is common amongst all great Metroidvanias is world design. This encompasses many aspects, but to simplify things: is the world fun to traverse and explore? This is important since you will be backtracking and zigzagging around the environment. The physical level design in Trash Quest in terms of obstacles is well done. There isn’t a lot of variety, but because the movement mechanics are so solid it makes exploring the game world enjoyable. There are a lot of jumping segments and plenty of floor spikes, as well as spinning spiky traps that move left to right or up and down.
The Racoon has a typical health meter starting with a few hearts. Getting hit by an enemy will cause you to lose a hit point, and touching one of the trap obstacles like the floor spikes will also cause you to lose a hit point; however, when that happens you restart from the beginning of the current room. When you lose all your health you are teleported back to the starting trash cans, but you don’t lose any inventory items and the sections you explored remain filled in on the map. Forcing you to restart at the beginning screen might sound like a cruel punishment and a waste of time, but because the game environment isn’t that big it’s not really an issue. Also, as you explore the map you will open up a fair amount of shortcuts. Speaking of the map, I was about halfway through the game and thinking about how much I needed a map. The game world is very compact; basically, it’s a medium-sized square made up of a bunch of rooms with maze-like paths throughout. There are multiple areas on the spaceship and each one has its own color scheme and signage which helps with navigation a bit, but the art style overall is somewhat bland making getting around without a map difficult. Luckily though you do have a map. It can be opened at any time with a press of the Y button.
The art style and the sound design are both reminiscent of classic pixel platformers of the past; however, the pixel art in this has its own unique aesthetic, using a limited amount of colors in each area. One aspect that I thought was interesting is how they handled the lighting. Some areas are darker than others, but in those areas you have a ball of light surrounding the character making it easier to see what’s nearby. The soundtrack is pure chiptune bliss. The first track when you exit the trash cans is by far the best one and reminded me greatly of some of the best chiptune music from the 8-bit era.
Trash Quest is split into two sections, getting through the main area and beating those four bosses will take you roughly an hour. I finished my first run in just over an hour, but that’s not the end of this dumpster diver’s quest. After you beat the fourth boss and trigger the ending screen when you reload you gain access to a new area. This area will definitely challenge the skills you have honed so far, it has some difficult platforming sections and three more bosses as well as the true ending. If you are an achievement hunter, the longevity is increased even more thanks to a few fiendishly difficult-sounding achievements, putting restraints on you while completing the game. Examples include not killing any regular enemies (that one isn’t too difficult), getting through the game without dying (that’s tougher), getting through the game without getting hit (extremely tough), and then a real doozy, getting through the game without getting hit and without killing any regular enemies (ludicrously tough). There are also a few speedrun-focused achievements. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that all of these challenge-style achievements only require you to beat the first portion of the game. I like having some achievements like that in my games, but I think they went a bit overboard. I like believing that I can complete a game (get all the achievements), but I think that’s more than a pipe dream here.
If you like Metroidvanias and/or 2D precision platformers then Trash Quest should be on your radar. The fantastic movement mechanics give the player the appropriate amount of control for working your way through the maze-like space station on your compact quest. The game is reasonably priced at $9 USD, but if you want to check out the game for less you could pick it up on steam where it’s only $3.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.