[PlayStation 4] Expand Review
Developed in partnership with a classically trained composer, Expand is a puzzle game described as a meditative video game. Will it succeed in soothing your soul while playing a video game? Read our Expand review to find out!
Expand – Trailer
You are a pink square. A small white circle is at the center of the screen or should I say, at the center of the level in which you’ll navigate your way around. As you move around the path that you’ll gradually discover, that big circle in which you are will sometimes expand, sometimes shrink, and sometimes throw obstacles at you that you’ll have to avoid to progress.
And with the game being a puzzle game, you’re not just going around without any challenge as there are moving parts that can crush you and walls that are often painted in red that you can’t touch – there are lots of occasions where you can become stuck and fail. Failing certain parts like this will rewind you back to the last checkpoint you reached, and twist the level around its center by a couple of degrees just to make sure that you can’t blindly go back and do things the same way. Since you’re always going around each level, the perspectives of your direction being altered slightly like is sometimes enough to help you navigate more easily, or it will challenge you more – until you die enough times as to find an angle that works for you.
Visually, the game is basically black (where you can’t go), white (where you can go), red (don’t touch that!), and pink for your little controllable square. Pretty minimalistic, with no 3D rendering or anything, and it fits perfectly with how the game plays. The transition for making your path appear is very smooth looking, and the effects of the circle expanding or shrinking were well done. I was afraid when I saw the trailer that the game would be too much like a hypnotic spiral, but it didn’t turn that way at all.
The music, considering the aforementioned partnership with a classical composer, was mostly relaxing, with little upbeat sections here and there, which is perfect for the game. I couldn’t agree more about the meditative aspect of the game when you put it all together with the soundtrack – I could’ve stayed there just to listen to the music, no puzzling required to appreciate it. It’s worth pointing out that the game can be purchased bundled with the soundtrack, or you can visit bandcamp to purchase the soundtrack separately.
After about two hours playing the game, I had reached the end of the five available levels, yielding me 100% of the trophies along the way, with no extra effort required since it’s all a matter of playing the levels. Only 2 hours, you ask? Yeah, that does sound pretty short, but it’s still a great experience. The way you circle around that centered dot makes a nice change from the usual 2D puzzlers, and with the soundtrack, it’s something that you get to the end without even noticing. Some might find that too short, but I prefer having a short but solid experience than having to play over a hundred levels of something that’s just more of the same.
To truly appreciate what Chris Johnson and Chris Larkin have created in Expand, you have to approach it as an experience, not a game. It’s not a puzzler that wants to challenge the deepest of your skills, it wants you to navigate around it, forgetting about all the stress that’s around you. So if relaxing games are your thing, if you have enjoyed games like Flower for example, then this one is a must-have release for your library.
PSN Price (PlayStation 4): $5.99
PSN Game Size: 215MB
This Expand review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by UKIYO PUBLISHING.