3.5 out of 5. A relaxing half-hour Metroidvania that still manages to show off a few gimmicks unique to its experience. Totally worth your time especially since it doesn't take much of it.
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How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. For being a 30 minute game it manages to be surprisingly non-linear with some sequence breaking opportunity - while maintaining some ability gating tropes
Primary Challenge: Tricky Platforming
Time to beat: ~0.5 hours
Review Info: Sal's Sublime Sundae was played using the downloadable version from itch.io

More Info

Developer: Rusty Bailey
Publisher: Rusty Bailey
Sub-genre: Mini Metroidvania
Features: 2D Platformer, Tricky Platforming, Collectathon, Cute, Sequence Breaking
Difficulty: Medium
Linearity/Openness: High Gating - No Handholding
Platforms: Windows, Itch.io, HTML5
Release Date: 2021/03/15
Available Languages: English

Store Links
Note: This game is free to download. You can also play this game in-browser via the itch.io site

    itch.io    

Buy Sal's Sublime Sundae if you like…

  • Tricky Platforming
  • Fresh Ability Gimmicks
  • Optional Health Upgrades
  • Goofy Premises
  • Sublime Ice Cream

▼ Review continues below ▼

Sal’s Sublime Sundae is a Mini Metroidvania created as part of a game jam in under 30 days. By its nature expectations shouldn’t be particularly high since that’s an insane time frame for creating any game. Rusty Bailey’s team did some phenomenal work however, and actually managed to make something worth putting the 20 minutes into it that it asks of you. It has decently challenging platforming, and an actually kind of unique gimmick as a movement upgrade. Sal’s Sublime Sundae is a very solid distraction and a perfect short break from basically anything going on in your life.

The premise of the game is just icing on the cake. Sal runs and ice cream shop, and apparently keeps a pocket dimension inside of his refrigerator where everything wants to kill him. The world of the fridge has a jungle, a mountain area, and an ice zone for you to explore, and the object is to collect the ingredients needed for the titular sundae. Along your way you’ll find movement upgrades – as you’d expect. Sal’s Sublime Sundae doesn’t include a whole lot in the way of combat; instead it focuses on platforming challenges.

At the center of the platforming challenges is a frying pan you get in the first area, which essentially lets you create a platform wherever you please. Any gap that you couldn’t normally jump across you can throw your pan out into the middle to create a stepping stone. The pan can also be thrown while jumping, so if timed correctly you can get some height out of the pan as well. There will be monkeys throwing bananas at you, or dart traps flying at you through the air, so figuring out how to position the pan while under pressure is a major part of the challenge. It never gets too difficult however, especially since checkpoints are generous and you can find upgrades to your maximum health to avoid the need to get good even further. This prevents Sal’s Sublime Sundae from being particularly memorable, but it does assist its role as a game you play to just relax for a bit.

The best and most relaxing part of Sal’s Sublime Sundae is how open the exploration becomes. Once you get past that first area you can kind of do things in any order you please. This is in part because of how systems oriented the game’s physics are; it makes sequence breaking very easy. One more power-up beyond the frying pan, and suddenly you can climb around every surface and avoid entire level sections entirely. Even with the frying pan alone with the right timing you can jump over obstacles that maybe allow you to go outside the game’s intended critical path. I say “maybe” because even though this game was made in just a month, it still feels like the devs put these tools into the game for the sole purpose of letting you have fun with them instead of forcing a specific way to play on you.

The whole game is over pretty quick but that’s kind of the point. If this game was more fleshed out, the frying pan gimmick in combination with some of the more traditional Metroidvania powers could turn Sal’s Sublime Sundae into a robust precision platformer hybrid – with the right level design. It would potentially lose its greatest asset in the process however, which is its relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. Mini Metroidvania games after all are about taking a short break from your other gaming distractions. The fact that Sal’s Sublime Sundae isn’t super hard, but just challenging enough to feel satisfying, makes it a strong recommendation for what it is. So if you’re hungering for something like that then go try this game out. It’s absolutely free, and you don’t even have to install the game if you don’t want to, since you can play it straight from your browser.


Final Score

3.5/5

Scoring system overview


Metroidvania Breakdown

Combat
– 3

You can stun some enemies, but besides that the focus is definitely more on the platforming

Platforming
– 3.5

You'll be dodging obstacles and pulling off tricks with the frying pan gimmick, but it doesn't get overly complex.

Exploration
– 3.5

You can find a few health upgrades that let you cheese the platforming challenges

Puzzle
– 2

Other than the typical Metroidvania trope of figuring out how to apply your new powers to obstacles, there aren't really puzzles in this game

Story
– 3

It's sugar coated nonsense, which makes it perfect for the length of this game

Graphics
– 3.5

The graphics do the job without too much detail or a ton of variety - it IS a half h our game after all

Music
– 4

Nice and relaxing, which adds to this game's value as a Mini Metroidvania

Replayability
– 2

There are a couple of ways you can sequence break the game, but it doesn't change the whole experience much. Self imposed challenges are going to be your best bet with adding more value to this game