Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.

The subject of this installment: MindSeize, developed and published by Kamina Dimension.

A time long ago, I desperately wished for more games like Metroid on the market. Then a finger on the monkey’s paw curled, and I’ve finally begun experiencing the negative side of getting exactly what I wanted.

Nowadays, the 2D Metroidvania is one of the indie scene’s most oversaturated genres, and while exemplars can still wow me – the magnificent Ori and the Will of the Wisps remains one of my favorites this year – there’s little room for something as generic as MindSeize, even when it’s competently made.

As vaguely suggested by the title, MindSeize is set in a sci-fi universe where a person’s consciousness can be transferred between host bodies, willingly or otherwise. The adventure begins with the paraplegic protagonist’s daughter having her mind abducted by an evil organization. He tracks the villains to an alien planet. In order to efficiently hunt her abductors down, his mind is moved into a powerful, agile robot body.

What follows is the most stock-standard exploration-based action-platformer imaginable. Unless something drastically changes in the later portions of the campaign, the mind transfer gimmick never factors into play in any meaningful way — it’s simply a plot device that’s cast aside once control is turned over to the player.

MindSeize represents one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced as someone with the responsibility of describing videogames, because it is utterly nondescript. The protagonist (whose name, unfortunately, is “M.C.”) can run, jump, shoot, and swing a sword. He eventually picks up abilities that allow him to do things like wall-jump and squeeze through tight gaps, which gradually expand a world that’s nonlinear in scope. If this sounds familiar, congratulations – you’ve played a videogame before.

It’s not a particularly polished title, with M.C. often getting humorously locked into single animation frames and certain maneuvers feeling frustratingly stiff. In an industry where major studios increasingly work their employees half to death ironing out every wrinkle, though, I’m not inclined to knock something as small as MindSeize for feeling rough around the edges as long as promising ideas shine through. Unfortunately, a complete lack of promising ideas aside from the premise is MindSeize’s real crime.

I eventually got stuck in the campaign, having explored the world to the best of my current ability, and hit nothing but dead-ends. I’m sure I’m missing something, and maybe if I dug through what little YouTube coverage exists, I’d eventually find the answer… but I just can’t be bothered.

In a past era when Metroid clones were uncommon, something like MindSeize might have been worth recommending. In 2020, though, it’s hard to find a reason to play it when there are so many other, better options.

Mike Suskie
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