Have you gotten tired of smashing in zombie heads and trying to solve puzzles that make you want to throw your PC out the window? If you have, Expand is the perfect game for you to use as a sort of a break from those types of games. It is a minimal, peaceful game in which you guide a square through a constantly moving circular maze. Going into this with low expectations, I was really surprised at how much I loved it.
Before I tell you more, I have to explain what Expand is. I hinted at it above, and now I’ll go into more detail. Expand is not supposed to be a game that excites or challenges you. Instead, you are supposed to be very relaxed when you play. A lot of gamers won’t like this type of game, but it is more enjoyable to play then you would expect.
First of all, my favorite thing about Expand was the soundtrack. I was amazed from the second I started the game to the end, and it may have been my favorite soundtrack in any game I’ve played. The way that it tunes to how fast paced the stage of the game that you’re on is great. I would seriously recommend playing this for the music alone.
Another element that I liked of Expand is that it all revolves around one circle. In the middle of the screen there is one small white circle that remains there throughout the entirety of the game. Everything in the game circles around this. It would create the illusion of things getting sucked in and coming out even when your square isn’t moving. It adds a lot to the relaxing feel and is almost hypnotizing.
Another thing that I really liked in Expand was the finale. It’s really great, and while Expand isn’t a game with a story it does a really good job at finishing up the game with amazing music and good gameplay. There isn’t really anything to spoil, but you really have to play it for yourself to know what it’s like.
The one problem I had with it was that there were occasional parts to the game that were fairly difficult. Normally I’d appreciate this in a game, but they felt weirdly out of place in Expand. You feel very relaxed but then you end up getting frustrated at one puzzle, ruining the mood that it was creating. These puzzles were usually short and I got past them eventually, I just wish they were completely not in the game.
The other thing to note is that you should play this with a controller. I did, and I got the feeling that doing it without one would turn this into a whole different game. I’m not saying don’t play it if you don’t have one, but just keep in mind that if you are going to play it a controller will drastically improve your experience.
Expand delivers what few other games can. A near perfect game that keeps you relaxed throughout almost the entirety of your playtime. If it weren’t for a few difficulty curves this would actually be a perfect game. Even though it isn’t, I would still recommend playing it. You’ll be amazed by what it contains, especially if you’re a fan of good soundtracks.
Developer: Chris Johnson, Chris Larkin
Publisher: Chris Johnson, Chris Larkin
Original Release Date: September 30, 2015
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), OS X
*A copy of this game was provided for review.