Two Parsecs From Earth Review

Two Parsecs From Earth is one of the most frustrating and tedious Metroidvania titles I’ve ever played. It’s clearly not a high budget affair, but almost every element comes across as either missing the mark or intentionally bad and even for the usual easy 1000g of a Ratalaika game I’d recommend steering well clear here.

Now look, I’m not going to take shot at the woeful English on display here as the developer clearing doesn’t use it as their first language. That’s fine, and I’ve seen worse. But what I will take umbridge with is the attempts at breaking the fourth wall by telling us just how boring or bad an idea is just after doing that exact thing. Comedy, amirite? Within the first few minutes we find the downed ship we’re supposed to be looking for; our hero whimsically mentions that it can’t be that easy, asking “Where’s the 1000g?”. While I’ll admit this one at least got a smirk, later on this just becomes rote. After a chase sequence they bemoan how unoriginal it is to have such a thing in a game… yes. Yes it is. There were many more examples in my time playing, and I’m sure there’s more but, well…

I grew bored of the frankly horrible controls, lack of assistance and all round experience far before I’d collected the 3 batteries and 30 Cargoes needed to complete the game. Taking cues from the Metroidvania genre, we find various areas locked off until we’ve acquired a certain power or item to bypass them. These powers are dotted around the sprawling levels as you may expect, but getting to them – and then back again to use them – is an exercise in tedium.

We can’t even jump to start with (another excuse for a ‘hilarious’ joke or two) but when we find our first power up the choice is there between two options. Annoyingly no matter what we pick we find ourselves traipsing around the labyrinthian levels hitting dead end after dead end. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to each area, so unlocking the ability to walk though certain walls for example might not even be of much use in the area you’re in at the moment.

Controlling our hero is frustrating as all hell too. We can jump but it’s one of the stiffest jumps I’ve used in gaming, acting as it does in a seemingly random fashion. Jump near a ledge and they’ll stick to the surface and hop up. Sometimes. Trying to navigate tight corridors full of spikes is annoying, made worse by the hard to parse collision that seemingly kills us when we should be in the clear. Dying sends us back to the start of the current area, but also loses any cargo we might have collected. One area saw me trying for far too long to collect the 4 or so boxes in it, only to die right at the exit. Needless to say, I didn’t go back for them again.

Looking at the map is all but pointless as although it indicates which section we’re in the lack of detail means we could be in any part of the highlighted section. We can’t even zoom in on it to try and read the shape of the land around us. We can, however, zoom in on our character, which the game handily points out is “pointless”, going on to say that the artist spent a long time on assets so added this in for people to appreciate their work.

Conclusion

I can’t deny that the dev’s clearly wanted to put some heart into the game, but almost none of it pays off in any positive way. The character controls awfully, the powers are nonsensically strewn about, the Fourth wall-breaking jokes just highlight the poor game design instead of compliment it, and even those looking for an easy 1000g will likely be put off before they can reach it. While the aim may be to get to Earth, I’d suggest giving it a wide berth upon it landing.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • The devs clearly enjoyed putting it together
  • Some of the early jokes are passable
Bad
  • The feel of the platforming is terrible
  • Powers are too randomly assigned to be of much strategic use
  • The map layout is confusing, and using the guide map accurately is all but impossible
  • The rest of the jokes are terrible
3
Lousy
Gameplay - 3
Graphics - 4
Audio - 2
Longevity - 3
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

3 Comments

  1. Thanks Jamie. I love how it’s seemingly unironically ironic. If breaking the fourth wall, the designer or writer needs to stick the landing. The only franchise I’ve seen do it well recently is Deadpool (both the game and the movies).
    On a side note, I’ve always meant to ask: How difficult is it to put a game on blast when the game publisher or developer provides the key? I’m assuming that as the Tavern’s site owner, in order for you to get game keys you have to communicate with developers and publishers, maybe even develop a positive rapport and foster long-term relationships with them. How do you balance that aspect of “needing” their good will vs remaining objective on your reviews? It must be a challenge.
    Not to go to deeply into this, but I think this is the primary reason why I took a break from writing reviews on the Tavern. I personally know how difficult it can be to create something and then push it out to the world (as you know, I’m an novelist). It’s both scary and exciting to push a creation out into the wild where anyone can say anything at all about it regardless of the courage it took to get to that point. When I was reviewing, I very much empathized with the creator and recognized the effort over the results.
    On top of that, when the publisher willingly gives out a key and says, “Here, review this and be honest.”, it put pressure on me as the reviewer to be fair, while all along in the background so much weighed on the outcome.
    I appreciate the honest reviews and your commentary. If it ever becomes too easy to wave off the efforts of the creators and bash the hell out of them because it’s entertaining, please stop reviewing. In the meantime, continue to balance the needs of the readers and the game developers like you and the others here do; it’s why I continue to come here.

    Reply
    • Cheers for your thoughts Rob – you’re always able to get your questions across perfectly!

      In terms of balancing our thoughts on the game when we often receive keys from the PR directly, it’s a fine line. On the one hand as you say, we can recognise the effort put in and no one sets out to make a bad game. On the other though, we need to view it from the perspective of the paying customers mainly. If I had paid for this title, for example, I’d have felt hard done by, even at its budget price. Whereas if I managed to get some enjoyment out of a title and consider the price of entry fair then even if there are problems I’m far more likely to feel better about putting a recommendation on it. At the end of the day we’re here to critique for both parties benefit (devs to see what people do/don’t like and consumers for advice on what to spend their money on), but the main thing is that we’re honest with our opinion. There’s nothing for us to gain on slamming or praising a game for the hell of it. That would just be a waste of everyone’s time.

      Sometimes we’ll decline a review if a situation arises that would be unfair to review; e.g the game gets delayed after we’ve already had access to it for example. But on the whole, if we play it we’ll deliver our verdict as honestly as we can. It’s never nice to have to put a title down, as you say there are very real people on the other end who have put a lot of work in, but if the end result isn’t up to snuff then it’s our duty to say so. Of course, each review is just that person’s opinion, so it’s to be taken as such. Just because I didn’t enjoy this, that’s not to say someone else wouldn’t, but in my opinion it’s not worth most people’s time to check out.

      If a dev/pr is upset by our score or what we have to say then it’s entirely up to them whether or not we continue to get access to review codes. 99% of the people I speak to are wonderful and understanding or our opinions, even if they may not agree with them. We’re very lucky and privileged to be able to interact with them and get the access we do, but that’s not going to mean we’ll fluff up a review or piece just to keep in the good books. Again, that serves no purpose other than to make our verdicts untrustyworthy and a waste of time. And despite what some may think, there’s never any monetary or otherwise incentive to deliver anything but an honest opinion.

      So yeah, basically we obviously are super appreciative of the relationships we’ve built and the access we get, but that also comes with the understanding that we’ll be honest when delivering our verdict, be that good or bad. As long myself and the team continue to do that, that’s all I can ask.
      🙂

      Reply
  2. Appreciate the discourse Jamie, and the position you and the others have to take. From my time as reviewer with XT and from all of the reviews I’ve read, I 100% feel that everyone on the team is as objective as they can be. Even a game that doesn’t review well doesn’t get put on blast, it more so gets an explanation of what’s wrong with it and some of the underlying factors. I see how devs might have an appreciation for that.
    I don’t want to beat this horse to death (is that a saying over in the UK as well?), so I’ll close. Thanks again for your response and I’ll talk to you later.

    Reply

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