A downloadable game for Windows

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-Warning: This game is very hard! I would recommend playing it if you are already comfortable with tough platformers. (This is harder than Super Meat Boy or Celeste, for example.)-

Washout Spire is a tight yet difficult die-and-retry platformer. Climb a strange tower and its many floors and discover what lies at the top! Master the controls and mechanics while enjoying the detailed pixel art and the haunting soundtrack. Checkpoints are plentiful, but death is never far...

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Each of the spire's floors ends with a fully illustrated story cutscene. What kind of story do they tell?
I dunno. You tell me.

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Game can be played with a keyboard or a xinput controller.
It also features an 'invincibility' mode for people who don't want the challenge: just press the 'i' key on the keyboard to toggle it on and off!

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The game is free because I want everyone to be able to enjoy it and can personally afford to have it that way for the time being. However, donations are immensely appreciated and will go towards future projects.
The soundtrack is available for free as well:
https://june-flower.bandcamp.com/album/washout-spire-ost

Have fun dying a lot!

Download

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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Washout Spire.zip 62 MB

Comments

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(+3)

I am still thinking a lot about this game.... I put together a video today that showcases all the levels (without being 9+ hours long like my initial playthrough). It could also serve as a walkthrough of sorts for people who are stuck on certain sections. It has some commentary where I ramble on about various things. If you don't like the commentary the Youtube description has a link to a no-commentary version (as well as chapter timestamps). 

(+3)

this game controls incredibly well and i love the atmosphere. i wish i had the stamina for it. it took me two stressful hours to just to get through chapter 3 so i dont think im going to finish the whole game. love your pixel art, its cool as hell

(+1)

Thank you very much! It's a very difficult one, so it's perfectly understandable.

(+3)

Very solid platformer. I really enjoyed it. I would finish it but I would prefer to not throw my computer out the window in rage. Excellent job! Keep it up! 

thank you! and thanks for the vid!

(2 edits) (+4)

Thank you for making this cool game. I really liked it overall. I think Chapters 10 and 11 were a little too much for me though. I completed them, but it was frustrating and stressful, especially the last part of Chapter 11. For the rest I had a pretty good time. I am uploading my playthrough to Youtube but it's 9 hours and 31 minutes long so it is taking a while. (Edit: it is here)

This game really puts the "precision" in precision platformer. The jumps are so tight and unforgiving. This is not a complaint, just an observation. I often found myself thinking things like "okay, I need to slide a few pixels lower here" or "I should press left a few frames later after jumping off the wall". The small details of your inputs and motions really matter in this game, I think moreso than a lot of popular entries in the genre (compare with Celeste, which has a lot of forgiveness mechanics to give you a pass when you're slightly off target).

The unforgivingness is most noticeable with the orbs that give you an air jump if you tap the jump button while touching them. You have to be really precise with these. I don't know if it's because the hitboxes are small, or if it's because you're frequently whooshing past them at high speeds and only have a small window to hit them. A recurring challenge is having to jump off a wall, then immediately trigger one of these orbs to get a momentum-boosted air jump. I think it took me until around Chapter 7 before I started to get the hang of this. (Edit: Apparently you updated the game to make these a little easier to handle. Interesting.)

Speaking of momentum, the horizontal momentum in this game works in a funny way. Your character basically has "two momentums": running momentum and walljump momentum, which are tracked separately. Running momentum has instant (or near-instant?) acceleration and deceleration. Walljumping, though, gives you a burst of speed that decays over time. These two forms of momentum "stack" on top of each other; you can "fight" your walljump momentum using your running momentum, but you can't cancel it completely, you have to wait for it to decay. Alternatively, you can run in the same direction as your walljump for a super speedy long walljump. Some jumps are easier if you start with a "neutral" walljump and apply running momentum mid-jump. It's an unusual but fun way of jumping.

Mechanically, there is nothing really groundbreaking in this game: it's a hard platformer focused on wall jumping. But these little quirks give it a unique identity. The level design is excellent, featuring intricate jump sequences that require both good execution and puzzle-solving ability. And the art and music is so lovely. And I really love that you can play it with just one hand on the arrow keys (ultimate control scheme)

(+1)

thank you so much for the review! I'm glad you stuck with it to the end

(+3)

My super long playthrough video finally finished uploading and processing. The description on Youtube has timestamps for the different chapters. Chapters 10 and 11 together take up over half the video.

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate this game. Even though the difficulty curve is steep enough to alienate a lot of people, I get the feeling you really believed in what you were making, and you put a ton of work into designing complex and beautiful levels that push the mechanics to their limits. I really liked figuring out some of the more puzzle-like sections.

(3 edits) (+3)

love this straight-to-brass-tacks explanation of the difficulty.  My impression was also that it's basically the most unforgiving timings and windows possible, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes the game as hard as it can possibly be, moment-to-moment.  

I also found the two separate momentums to be a fun mechanic and actually rather unique.  I'd kind of like to see it used in an easier manner in a game sometime, though the level 0 did a surprisingly effective job at teaching it.  It just was expected for the learner to advance to incredibly difficult heights immediately afterward.

EDIT: Also cannot believe how skilled some people are at platform games, I bet you play N++ lol

(+2)

I've been playing these games (precise platformers with infinite lives and quick restart, or "die-and-retry" platformers as the description puts it) since the early days of Jumper and the original N. I never actually got that into N or any of its sequels, but Maddy Thorson's pre-Celeste works were a big part of my childhood (I particularly love Jumper, Jumper 2 and Dim).

Something I noticed as this subgenre evolved is that it started developing a two-tier difficulty system, where the main levels were usually geared toward players who are new to the genre, so they would be hard but never push your limits too much. And the truly challenging stuff for veterans would be optional content like time trials, collectable trinkets, or secret levels that aren't relevant to progress. 

It's a system that has a lot of advantages, since it welcomes new players while placating experienced players. But as someone on the "veteran" side, I found it refreshing that this game eschews that and simply making progress becomes quite hard as early as Chapter 2 or 3. I sort of miss this kind of game. It's more exciting to me when the core path through the game is difficult, compared to when the difficult parts are optional and just give me a checkmark on the save file.

(1 edit) (+1)

Whoa, I actually never knew Maddy Thorson made Jumper AND An Untitled Story.  What a pioneer.

I also have a soft spot for games that are just really difficult the whole way through.  Maybe that's why I keep chatting in this particular game's comment section.  It is indeed strangely refreshing and nice to have every once in a while as a palate cleanser.

(+1)

This game's so preetttttyyyyy, both the art and music is super-duper lovely. I really like the static height jump and the strong horizontal movement on the wall jump, they give it a different feel from other games like this.

Thank you so much! <3

(+1)

Washout Spire is a visually stunning game. The platforming mechanics are really fun as well. If I had any design critiques it would be that sometimes you have to do several hard/tedious platforming tricks in a row before a checkpoint. Most of the time that's fun, but there were a few occasions where I couldn't see a section long enough to figure out how to complete it. I plan on doing those sections again with invincibility to learn them, but it's something to keep in mind.

The only other comment I have is I think some amount of "coyote time" when jumping off of walls would have gone a long way. A lot of my deaths where because I pressed a direction key a split second before pressing the jump key, causing me to fall to my death. A smidge of coyote time when jumping off of the walls would fix this. It's a small thing really.

Overall, absolutely amazing game. I'm looking forward to learning all the chapters in the coming weeks.

Thank you for the feedback! The lack of coyote time is deliberate, I want people to always press jump before the opposite direction... It definitely is hard to get used to since most other games have it though! I hope you enjoy the rest of the game and story <3

(+2)

I played it but wasn't able to beat it just yet. It is really hard, and I tend to complain about games being "too easy". My question is: Is there no save mechanic? I seldom have the energy to sit through an entire game, and a challenging one at that. You can see it here. I also drew the character because I like the design.

(+1)

Thank you for trying it out! There is no 'saving' per se but you can select any of the 11 chapters from the main menu.

(+1)

also: thank you so much for the fan art! it looks super cool. from the youtube video I can see that you didn't make it past chapter 1, there is no saving in the middle of a chapter.

I'm curious how far you got and/or which levels you beat!  For me I beat 0, 1, and 6 without the cheat.

(+4)(-3)

normalize allowing to fullscreen the game, move the game's window, and a toggle for border/borderless windows.

(+5)(-5)

no :)

(5 edits) (+3)

one of the most gorgeous games I ever played, couldn't beat it even with cheats, gave me carpal tunnel

/s

OK serious review for prospective players.  As far as I'm aware, Washout Spire the first platform game programmed by June Flower, who has thus far made mostly slower-paced adventure/exploration/interactive games.  I haven't played them all but the common thread is some of the most appealing, vibrant pixel art you can find in indie games.  So I picked this up based on the art alone, because, just look at it.  Each preview image just oozes character.  I donated a little too but this kind of art is just priceless.  

Side note about the first impression the game, I'm sort of confused from a developer standpoint as to why it can't be made full screen, but the screen size is adjustable and the perma-windowed mode isn't really a big deal.  I just don't remember having this happen with other June Flower games that I played, though it's possible I'm remembering incorrectly.

So anyway, onto the gameplay, arguably the most important part of a game in the way it affects player experience. I'm an avid platform gamer and this is one of the most difficult platformers I've ever played.  Not necessarily a bad thing; it's clear the creator enjoys tough and precise challenges and that's honestly just a preference.  The core gameplay is running, jumping, and wall jumping, brought quickly to extreme heights.  The difficulty is on par with the most difficult player-made challenges for games like N++, Super Meat Boy, the Knytt series, VVVVVV, or the ABC-sides of Celeste levels or La-Mulana's Hell Temple (just speaking on experience from games I've personally played, there may be better comparisons out there).  Thankfully if you read the Read Me, there's a keystroke cheat to make yourself invincible.  This makes the game accessible to anyone who isn't interested in hard-as-nails, high-reflex platforming, allowing for some more relaxed exploration of the game's pretty areas (a.k.a. all of them).  I used the cheat for most of the game, after beating levels 0 and 1 and getting stuck on a particularly lengthy segment of level 2 where you bonk your head on disappearing blocks.  My message to a general audience about the game who doesn't want to read any further would be, you can easily still enjoy this game and get something out of it even if you aren't good at platforming, due to the game's flexible design.

That's just the overhead view of the difficulty.  I'd like to break it down a bit more over the next few paragraphs because there's some interesting design decisions in Washout Spire that contribute to its difficulty, some of which I like and some I don't as much.  Firstly, I love the decision to pick any level from the get-go.  This is the type of game where players will miss quality content if they get frustrated and don't have a way to skip ahead.  The level select feels empowering to the player and harkens back to old-school console games.  Secondly as it relates to pacing, the checkpoints are amply placed (I'd be willing to bet money that the testers are partly responsible for this), though there are still a few places where I think the segments could have been further subdivided.  Multiple pixel perfect jump segments abound and they're quite taxing on the fingers -- I'd personally implement some kind of hard cap for ultra-precise movements and keep a mental tally when designing hard challenges like this.  Most of the levels are what you could call short, but they will take a long time to beat even for seasoned gamers because each individual segment of most levels both A) essentially requires solving a puzzle, usually with trial-and-error and B) is made up of a nontrivial number of technically difficult/high-skill jumping maneuvers.

Probably the most technical-minded critique I have of Washout Spire is that physics are a bit stiff.  Jump height is non-variable which is unusual in modern platformers.  Secondly, while the player can adjust their horizontal position back and forth mid-air on a normal jump, if they wall-jump, they are met with a backwards resistance, only able to slow their outward momentum but not reverse it.  I've actually seen this in a game before -- in La-Mulana -- but it feels a little funny in Washout Spire because it contradicts the feeling of a normal, non-wall jump.  I can't really hate this design decision because the levels are constructed very smartly around it, but it's just not the type of physics I personally enjoy enough to keep as the baseline for level design.  Each challenge of the game is at the very least, decently tuned to how these physics function, and I found myself thinking June has a knack for platform level design if this is their first serious foray into it.  I can't stress enough how the challenges are hard as FUCK but they also sport such variety and cleverness that I can't stay salty about it for long.  My "advice" as a game designer, which can be ignored if it's not sought after, would be that a gentle ramp up to high difficulty keeps the player hooked for longer and feeling a bit less distressed.  (It could just be that I suck though, heh.)

EDIT: I forgot to mention: I'm of the opinion that the window in which the player can press the jump button on those floating orbs is vastly too small.  It feels like a frame perfect jump, a bit excessively demanding on the reflexes.

Side note #2, I liked level 6 a ton, it was a breath of fresh air, fun to explore without worrying about spikes, had an extra high amount of unique art, much of which was funny and eye-grabbing, had FL Studio's Air Chorus, Sans, and a maze that made me think of Worms Armageddon roping courses.  Actually a rare example of a classical maze that isn't super annoying because the player is able to jump around like crazy with no penalty, something I think really rounds out the experience after being beat up to hell and back in levels 1-5.

Side note #3, the boss that chases you in I think level 4 scared the bajeezus out of me, which was a delightful surprise.  How many unusual things are there to find in this game that come out of nowhere?  The incentives for the player to beat challenges and explore are incredibly high, which is such a plus.

Now I want to switch gears real quick and touch on something (other than obviously the art) that kicks ass -- the music and sound design.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for creators who do not only the programming and art for their games but the audio too!  This is nothing new for June Flower but it's still impressive.  The soundtrack is quite extensive and expressive and contains a range of genres and styles including ambient, drum and bass, rock, hard trance, and experimental bits of sound collage.  Sound effects for player interactions are well-chosen, matching both individual actions and the atmosphere at large.  I especially liked the ASMR-like wall sliding sound.  Though I wondered why there was no death sound.  Maybe it would happen too much ;)

Of course I should talk about the story too, but writing is my weak suit and I didn't even see everything so I won't spend much time on the details.  The cutscenes in Washout Spire are maybe the most visually attractive part of the game and their atmosphere is extremely compelling.  They serve to string together the wildly different areas of the game and tell a story of a wanderer in a dream-like world, meeting new companions who help give a sense of belonging and explain tidbits about the mysterious and threatening surroundings.  There is a depressive mood in these scenes that meshes perfectly with the masochistic gameplay.  I can't say I understand the plot as a whole but it's mostly because I couldn't make it to the end of over half the levels even with cheats on, so again I didn't see a lot of it, something I regret a bit but I don't have enough skill and/or patience.  My overall impression though is that June is just having fun with broad strokes of world building and character design and the writing thematically all feels cohesive, plus the prose is quite nice.  I can tell there's more fascinating worlds to discover by this creator.

I think I'm out of steam here though maybe I'll edit something in or comment again if I remember something else I wanted to talk about.  There's so much going on in Washout Spire that I had to make this wall of text; it was just fun to play and analyze from multiple angles.  I wouldn't mind being a tester or being otherwise involved in a future project by June Flower!

(and sorry if this review sounds weird being in third rather than second person, it's just the way I decided to go for some reason!  I will talk directly in other comments!)

(+1)

Wow, thank you very much for this! loved reading all of it. there's actually a death sound but it is very subtle... I think it might get on people's nerves otherwise.