Setting some kind of record for fastest sequel turnaround by a University of Utah undergraduate program turned indie game developer, Stunt Bear Games’ latest version of ‘hardcore parkour’ starring a dressed-up you, Avatar Trials Ninja Redemption ($1.00), is out a mere six months after the original Uprising-subtitled game.
Don’t mistake the ‘2’ in the box art title, though; this feels like a glorified level pack much more than a legitimate sequel. Maybe a few tweaks to the camera (default is fine, but you can adjust the sensitivity), the pasting in of some thick, fluffy clouds (see above and below) to give visual height to the stages, and I’ve touched on all of what’s changed in Avatar Trials Ninja Redemption, outside of the five new levels. There’s no tricks added to your moveset bag, and most of the textures and architecture from the first game are reused here.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you enjoyed the original, quirks and control frustrations and all. The dragon mascot / odd putdowns return, with new, incomprehensible gems like ‘You look like you ran a 100 meter dash in a 90 meter room’ (…I’m not going to comment on that). Your avatar still seems to hover over the floor and grip invisible ledges, too. I remember ending the old review with the suggestion that Stunt Bear Games take the time to refine its presentation for any future projects, and it’s a little sad to see that advice went unheeded here.
The gameplay doesn’t seem any worse off for it, but again, that’s if you enjoyed the original. Newcomers might not appreciate the loose controls coupled with tiny platforms, or be as forgiving of the Trials’ structure of requiring perfect runs in order to advance. Checkpoints are available in the practice setting, and boy, will you need them. Whereas I was able to at least unlock all three stages in the first game, I struggled to reach the end of the second level here. I’m not sure if the challenge was increased due to feedback, or my avatar is just not as sprightly as it used to be.
Uprising sold well for the developer, which guaranteed this sequel. Avatar Trials Ninja Redemption brings back everything familiar for a second round, though that complacency also means that some of the thrill (and what’s left of your patience) may have been left behind. Only masochists and authentic ninjas should apply.