Developer / Publisher – Played With Fire / Beyond Frames Ent.
Price – US $24.99 / CA $28.99 / EU €24.99 / UK £22.99
Release Date – February 16th, 2023
Input – 2 x Touch Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store Links – Meta
Reviewed on – Quest 2
This is Mixture. A fantasy adventure where you must aid and control a exiled knight in 3rd person platformer action while also playing as Sephairos, an ancient being with alchemical powers, in 1st person very much akin to Classic VR gems like the Moss series or Astrobot: Rescue Mission.
After being discovered by the tiny knight Sola, you awaken to discover that your corporeal form is no more and you exist only as an apparition of your former self, tied to a medallion worn by Sola. While you have no physical form, you still retain some of your alchemical abilities that allow you to create potions using nearby minerals as their ingredients. It’s with these potions and Sola’s abilities that the 2 of you must form an uneasy alliance in order to stop the other Alchemists from reaching the Gateway of Light and plunging this world into chaos under their rule.
An opening tutorial teaches you the basics of Alchemy which lets you absorb nearby minerals and use a potion wheel to summon the correct concoctions for your needs and toss them at your targets. You can choose to toss without aid or turn on aim assist which highlights the target you are looking at, making for a much easier time with the latter being my preferred way to play as the difficulty here can still be quite high. Once you familiarize yourself with your abilities, the game begins with the 1st stage acting as a 2nd tutorial for Sola’s controls and learning how to chain together your combined abilities. Sola plays in traditional 3rd person action-platformer style and has the ability to strike, dash, glide & climb though it is worth noting that she can’t jump on her own. Sola’s combat is relegated largely to mashing a face button and dodging attacks using the dash ability though upgrades do change up this system a little. While games like Moss & Ven had you pairing your abilities with your tiny counterparts every now and then, in Mixture, every puzzle and encounter will require you to work together making for some hectic and rewarding battles. You’ll encounter a few stray foes as you traverse the various biomes, but it’s when magical walls pop up to block your progress that you’ll be in for a bigger battle. Enemies come in very distinct forms from ones that fly and try to blast you from afar while smaller balls try and roll after you, larger stone golems may launch their heads your way or little floating bastards will give all those enemies shields and need to be taken out first. A bunch more enemy types pop-up further mixing up the combat as each will be vulnerable to 1 or more of your alchemical abilities. These include a sticky potion which will lock enemies in place or knock them out of the sky, a hardening potion that allows you knock back enemies or disable their abilities and while those 2 powers will be used to dispatch a bulk of the bad guys, the other powers you unlock throughout the 8 – 10 hour campaign will also be needed against the much larger bosses. It’s in those battles where all your skills are put to the test as you’ll have to avoid unique and powerful attacks while puzzling out each ones weakness. The encounters here are very satisfying and while Sola’s combat options are a little basic, in combination with your own abilities make for many engaging battles as the need to balance all the elements at play is a must.
When not dealing out damage, Sola will have to scale this massive world, utilizing and chaining together every single power and ability in your arsenal. Certain plants become very bouncy when hit with that hardness potion, some platforms may need to be held together so Sola can walk on them using the sticky potion while red stones and areas covered in rust must be temporarily dispelled by other chemicals. Factor in the need to dash across gaps, glide to lower areas, scale others while manipulating switches that move said platforms & unblock your path and things can get very tricky. In the latter half of the game, you’ll encounter energy barriers that block your magical powers while letting Sola pass through them and chaining together the right potion while navigating through these areas can be very challenging. Thankfully the game does a great job at introducing each new mechanic one at a time so even though the latter half of the game offers up substantial difficulty, obstacles never feel unfair…minus one notable issue. You act as the camera and while you can turn around to change your angle, or use the snap-turn option, on more than a few occasions, I found myself to be in an awkward position causing me to bend my neck in some uncomfortable ways so I could view the action or move around in the real-world but as I played this seated, that latter choice wasn’t exactly ideal. It doesn’t happen often and when it does, it’s never game breaking, it just hampers the fun a bit. During the campaign you’ll also need to collect golden flowers hidden in vases scattered throughout each biome and once you have collected enough of them, you can purchase new attacks or armour for Sola which help ease the burden on some of those more hectic encounters. A few more alchemical powers also pop up, 6 in total, that offer even more unique interactions giving Mixture a ton of depth and replay value as eventually, you unlock the ability to revisit any world to hunt down those missed collectibles.
Counter to that very in-depth gameplay is a visual style that looks lacking compared to the other titles I have mentioned so far but does offer a unique art-style nonetheless and some massive stages with impressive verticality and draw distance. Don’t get me wrong, Mixture does not look bad by any stretch, it can just look lacking at times thanks some relatively flat areas and simple textures. Everything in here looks as if it were painted with pastels, but typically uses darker colors, making much of this world feel drab and uninviting, but given that the world is falling under some pretty dark times, this makes sense and there are moments that are rife with color so it’s not all dark and bleak. Sola and here brethren are all very tiny creatures with armour styled after individual animals, Sola’s is a moth, and they are all quite small so as you travel through the realm you’ll be walking through grass and smaller plants that tower over you though this use of scale is somewhat underutilized as much of the world has been scaled to your size making most of the game look like just another new area, which isn’t a bad thing. There are 4 different larger biomes to explore, and they are massive with each offering various environmental challenges to navigate like having to dash across lily pads, climbing up and down the insides of massive statues or even surfing down some rocky half pipes to get to the depths of some large caverns. It’s each biomes unique assets that do set this apart from the others as each feel quite different and from beginning to the end, despite some it’s shortcomings, I enjoyed every new set piece I stumbled across and the variety they came in.
Accompanying the epic story is a soundtrack that is used to emphasize each scene and encounter, falling into the background and adding subtle emotion as opposed to being overpowering. That epic story is a little underwhelming as the entirety of the game is explained through dialogue but unfortunately all that dialogue appears as blocks of text you’ll have to read and at times, it felt like a lot. When each character is talking, they will audibly utter some gibberish but given just how much story is at play, I think it would have gone a long way to have fully voiced characters or a narrator to help hammer home the weight of this tale. Regardless, once I did start to piece together what was happening, I was invested in seeing how this was all going to play out. Sound effects are all on point with the various sounds of battle and all the individual elements at play making appropriate noises and while I didn’t really notice any positional audio at play, seeing as how the action occurs largely in front of you, this is less of an issue than in more traditional VR 1st-person titles.
It took a little while for Mixture to get its hooks into me, but once it did, I couldn’t stop playing. Whenever encounters started to feel samey, a new element or enemy type was introduced to keep me on my toes. Factor in that each new power can be used in a variety of ways in and out of combat and this platformer might just be the most in-depth one I have ever played. The presentation does suffer a little but is made up for by the larger scale of the game and with a rather lengthy 8+ hour campaign plus some replayability in that item hunting and you get an action-platformer that feels familiar yet offers up something entirely new and all of that for a modest price and a game I highly recommend to fans of the genre.
Meta provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!