Review – Melbits World
Melbits World is the latest attempt to make the PS4’s PlayLink feature a “thing”, and although it isn’t altogether bad, it seems to miss its target mark. Cute characters and clunky controls leave me somewhat confused on who their target audience actually was intended to be.
On the surface, Melbot Studios developed a family party game for two to four people. You start with five or six Melbits, which is a cute Rabbid-like monster. Playing the game eventually unlocks more Melbits, as well as items and stickers. All players work as a team to get each of their Melbits through a 3D platform maze. You move obstacles to maneuver your Melbit through the world and collect items. In total, there are four worlds to puzzle your way through. Family fun for all ages! Or is it?
Melbits World looks and is simplistic enough in theory to cater perfectly to kids and parents. It should allow mom and dad to enjoy hours of fun with their young children. It should remove the “complications” of a classic controller in favor of a simple touch screen.
But this is exactly where Melbits World fails to properly focus on who it is trying to entertain. The developers have built a cute world and basic mechanics but firewalled them behind clunky controls and the need for a $100-$800 peripheral. There is absolutely nothing in Melbits World that a DualShock 4 controller cannot accomplish but Melbot Studios, or Sony themselves, forced this as a PlayLink title. In the game you rotate, spring, turn, raise, lower and slide up and down or left to right. With That’s You! and Hidden Agenda, the use of a personal device made sense. But every action in Melbits World could have been accomplished on a Dual Shock 4 with little or even less issues.
Although unneeded, most of these controls do work fine on a phone. There is only one mechanic that was extremely difficult to use comfortable, almost killing the entire experience. Using your phone as a gyroscope to rotate cylinders or to turn platforms was extremely frustrating, not enough to make the game unplayable but clunky enough that, before even finishing the second world out of four, my 10-year-old son had already had enough. The struggle is rarely what to do in the game but rather fighting with your device to get it to work.
Since PlayLink is not web based, it requires a specific app download for each PlayLink title. If your ten-year-old already has a laptop or tablet, then great. Mine, however, does not. This caused unnecessary time to find a device that he could use. Then each person must download an unnecessary app just to play this one game they may only play once. To me, that is asking a lot of the family to make it a family game. This and the controls causing my son to quit: definitely not what you want for family fun hour.
Another frustrating piece for Melbits World is that, regardless of the number of players, the mechanics needed to control remain the same, meaning there are always four mechanics that must be controlled. The game becomes much easier once you have four players. Two players require two people to control two mechanics each per level. Three players mean one random player will have to control two different mechanics while the others control one. The game isn’t bad. In fact, my oldest son and I had a better time trying to beat the poor controls and even as a family, we enjoyed it up until those controls became intrusive. But the game is never entirely good either.
Melbits World isn’t entirely bad, but it does poorly target its demographic and there was little to no need for it to be a PlayLink title. I honestly haven’t thought about PlayLink since Hidden Agenda dropped at the end of 2017. And after playing Melbits World, ignorance may have been bliss.
One of the better elements from a title like this. The worlds are fairly lush and vibrant, but far from impressive.
Making it PlayLink-mandatory actually makes it less accessible than you may think. Plus the gyroscope control interface doesn’t work as well as it should.
Cute and fun. That’s all that can be said about it.
Fun Factor: 6.0
Out of four worlds, we had a good time in one before the controls became too much of an hindrance.
Final Verdict: 5.5
Melbits World is available now on PS4
Reviewed on PS4
A copy of Melbits World was provided by the publisher.